We have a broody hen. For those of you who like me a few short years ago, have no idea what that means, a broody hen is a hen that wants to sit on eggs until they hatch. Surprisingly, (or not, I try not to judge) not all chickens want to sit on eggs all the time. Some chickens never go broody. Some chickens, like this one, will steal all the other chickens' eggs until she can’t physically fit another egg under her generous bosom. Then she will sit, and sit, and sit, until you wonder how she is even alive, as you can’t remember the last time you saw her eat or drink or do anything for herself. She hasn’t taken a moment in what must be years in chicken life, to read a good book or drink a glass of wine or…maybe I’m projecting. But regardless, I have a broody hen. Unluckily, my hen has yet again proven the necessity of having a good man around. Our current rooster is, unfortunately, not really much of a man at all. He is afraid of the hens. Thus, all those eggs the chicken had stolen away are sadly unfertilized and no matter how long she sits, will never become anything other than eggs. I can think of so many analogies here, I’m not sure which one to choose: The futility of focusing our lives around what we can’t have, the symbiotic relationship of man and woman, the instincts of motherhood on which the continuation of our species hangs, or the fact that this hen, like me, has been very busy wasting her time on her offspring.
I have wasted more chicken years than I can calculate trying to teach my children things they absolutely couldn’t care less about. In people years I would estimate, let’s see, my oldest is 21, so 21 years, trying to teach my children things that people really should know. For example, I have spent years and years trying to prove to my children that when something, a spoon or receipt for example, falls on the floor, it does not actually disappear. My children, it seems, are convinced that once something is no longer at approximate eye level, it is in fact - gone, and no longer requires you to pick it up off the floor or attend to it's existence in any way. I refuse to lay down on the couch in their presence for fear they will write me off as “gone” and start dividing up the household goods among the surviving.
I have also completely failed to teach these future independents that they can do more than throw a pile of clothing on the floor of the laundry room but can actually press buttons and move garments through the process from dirty to clean. Maybe it ties in with the whole “below my knees the world ceases to exist” thing, but laundry has eluded my offspring. I think they get the concept, they tell me things like, “I don’t have any clean shirts.” But then they just look at me like I am supposed to do something to fix that. The amazing thing is that when I hand them their clean shirts, up high, so they can see them, they don’t seem the least bit surprised at their mysterious resurrection. In fact, they so immediately loose interest that those same very important shirts can sit for weeks on end on top of the dresser that actually has empty drawers for those shirts to go in when they are clean. Ah Broody Hen, I feel your pain. I know the longing for young ones to carry on your chicken mission. But alas, like you, it appears that although my children have all the potential, they are missing something. Yours lack fertility, mine lack responsibility or guilt, I’ll take whichever one would work. But despite all the frustration, I have to admit, I don’t think either one of us really looks forward to an empty nest.