“No, Mom,” he said, rolling his eyes slightly. “We’re hatching chicks at school!” He went on to explain how they had the incubator all ready, and that they were going to get 10 eggs, even though there were only spaces for eight.

“Mom, look at this,” my first-grader said.


I looked up to find him holding the dog’s squeaky chicken toy.


“What?” I said.


He drew a line with his finger down the center of the chicken.


“Did you know that if you cut this chicken in half, the gizzards would be right where the squeaker is?” he said.


I pondered this for a moment. I’d never given much thought to dog-toy anatomy.


“No, Timmy, I didn’t. But how do you know?” I asked.


“We talked about gizzards today in school,” he explained.


I don’t remember ever discussing poultry entrails as a child, except to insist that they remain out of the stuffing at Thanksgiving.


“Why were you talking about chicken gizzards in school?” I asked.


He smiled radiantly.


“Because we’re getting chickens!” he said.


“We are?” I asked cautiously.


“No, Mom,” he said, rolling his eyes slightly. “We’re hatching chicks at school!”


He went on to explain how they had the incubator all ready, and that they were going to get 10 eggs, even though there were only spaces for eight.


“A couple of them will probably be cracked, anyway,” he explained.


He continued, saying that it will take a little while for the chicks to hatch, that probably not all of them will hatch, and that they had a special machine that will let them see inside the shells. He said the school’s secretary had a chicken coop in her backyard and was all ready to adopt them once they were ready to go to a new home.


He nearly burst with one last piece of news: “And Mom, we’ll get to hold them once they’re all dry and fluffy!”


He had me at “fluffy.”


Over the past week, Timmy has turned into our resident chicken expert –– a pint-sized Frank Purdue. He came upstairs from the home office the other night, waving a few printer pages.


“Mom, look!” he said.


He spread out five pieces of paper on the dining room table. Every page had the same outline of a rooster, and he had colored each rooster in the same way. Professor Purdue launched into his lesson.


“See, Mom?” he said. “I Googled ‘chicken,’ but didn’t see anything I wanted, so I Googled ‘chicken coloring pages,’ and look what I found!”


“Wow,” I said. “Tell me about them.”


“Well,” he began, “I found this one that says ‘Henny Penny,’ and then I found this one that says ‘Chicken Little.’”


“OK,” I said, uncertain where this was going.


“And look, Mom,” he continued, “This one has ‘The sky is falling,’ and this one,” he said, holding the pièce de résistance with a flourish, “has ‘The sky is falling’ in cursive!”


Chicken pictures with captions in cursive; it doesn’t get much better than that in first grade.


“Wow,” I said again.


He stacked up his chicken pages and stapled them together.


“My teacher is going to love this,” he said, and he put the papers into his backpack.


I thought we might have a little problem the other day, when roasted chicken was on our dinner menu, but he had it all worked out for himself.


“It’s chicken, the meat, not chicken, the animal,” he said.


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