Sunday, December 11, 2011
Melanie took her turn collecting eggs from the plush chickens tucked into the make-believe chicken coop. The preschoolers were learning about farm animals, though Melanie was sure she knew everything there was to know.
"How come chickens lay eggs?" Robert asked.
"So that baby chicks can be born," his teacher replied.
"And so we can eat them!" Jessie added enthusiastically. She spent a lot of time in the kitchen wither her mother.
"Farmers who raise chickens go out and collect the eggs every morning," the teacher continued her lesson. "They put them in baskets and sometimes take them to the market to sell."
"That's not what I'm doing," Melanie said softly. "I'm collecting the eggs just like my grandpa taught me. Then he lets me take them in the big barn and put a blanket on them to keep them warm. I take care of them just like their mama does and then when they're born they'll think I'm their mama since I took such good care of them."
"Chickens don't think people are their mamas!" Alyssa exclaimed. "Only babies think people are their mamas!"
"Yeah, chickens can't think," Robert added.
"Plus, we need to eat the eggs," Jessie insisted.
"Class, settle down. All of you make very good points. But let's go back to talking about farmers and the chores they have to do on the farm. Feeding the chickens and collecting eggs are just the start."
Melanie shook her head and held her basket close to her, covering it with her arms. "It's not a chore to take care of something you love," she said. "My grandpa told me. He said if you love something, you want to take care of it and don't mind getting up early and going out in the cold. He said you do it because you care. He said there are no chores on a farm if you love being a farmer."
Mrs. Chamberlain remembered now that Melanie had recently lost her grandfather. She smiled at Melanie and nodded her head. "Your grandfather is right," she said. "Let's talk about what other animals live on the farm, class. Does anyone know?"
Several small arms shot into the air as the children began calling out pigs, cows and roosters. Only Melanie sat quiet, leaning over her basket of eggs with her body, protectively keeping them warm just like her grandfather had taught her.