Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chicks and Carnivores

The kids Easter baskets included ‘Magic Hatching Eggs’.  My son got a dinosaur egg, and my daughter received a little chick egg.  As the directions indicated, we placed each one in a glass of water.  We were surprised to see bubbles immediately emerge from each of the eggs (no one more surprised than I, since these things are normally big time duds).  “Look! They are breathing!  Mom!  They are breathing”!  
They could not believe that they were actually going to grow a couple of new pets.  They checked in on their egg every 3 to 5 minutes, and would report their findings back to me: 
J: “I think its sleeping now”.  
L: “There aren’t as many bubbles”.  
J: “I think I see my shell cracking”! 
L: "I think I see its' shadow"! 
 This went on for an hour or so, which I was grateful for at first, but wasn't sure how much more my sanity could take on the minute-by-minute updates. 
I read on the box that it may take 24-48 hours for the pet to fully hatch, so after saying a little prayer that we got the 24 hour variety, I started in with the ad-libbing (that is a nice parent-word to use in place of lying).  I told them,  “Guys, I’m not sure...but I think the directions said that if you stare at the egg too long, it might turn to stone”.  That deterred them for about a half hour or so, but then each time they went over to the eggs they were very careful to only look for a few seconds.  My son decided that he would only look sideways at his egg so as to be extra careful.   
The next morning, there were a few tiny cracks in the eggs.  The kids thought this was AMAZING.  They were jumping up and down and high-fiving each other, and placing bets on which one would hatch first.  By afternoon, my son’s egg had just enough of an opening that we could make out the little dinosaurs mouth, or maybe it was his eye-- but it was “definitely real”, according to my son.  Unfortunately, that was about all the egg action we saw that day, but the kids were patient, and wondered about what was going to happen next.  
That night, my son started asking some rational questions: ”Mom, is that thing really going to be real”?  “Mom, is that a kind of dinosaur that is not extinct”?  “I thought they were extinct”?  “Can I bring it to show and tell”?  “Mom, how big is the dinosaur going to get”?   
I carefully answered each of his questions with “I wonder” and “What do you think”?  My son was quiet and contemplative for awhile, and then something clicked.  He gasped and exclaimed in horror, “What if it hatches tonight and tries to eat Frankie”?  My daughter chimes in with a nervous laugh, and says, “heh-heh, that is sooooooooo silly- he won’t eat Frankie!  Dinosaurs don’t eat cats!  Right mom”? 
Then, for some strange reason, all rational thought left my brain and I decided that this was the moment to educate my children about carnivorous dinosaurs.  We discussed raptors and tyrannosaurs-to which my son could suddenly relate- “Like, you mean--Tyrannosaurus REX”?  
In an instant, both kids scrambled out of bed and started sprinting around the house, checking under furniture, desperately calling for the cat.  “Frankie?  Frankie?  
FRANK-IEEEEEE”!  After locating the cat, and after a lot of reassuring by me that my son’s egg did not contain that kind of dinosaur, they were able to settle down and eventually go to sleep.
The next morning, both eggs had cracked significantly, showing the fully-formed spongy upper body of the baby dinosaur, and the fuzzy little head of the baby chick.  My daughter was thrilled, and she lovingly oohed and ahhed over her chick.  She was lightly tapping the glass, saying “Hi chicky!  I’m your mama”, and singing “here chicky chicky,  here chicky chicky”.  She started contemplating names-- “I think I’’ll call it Lilly.  Or Lulu.  Or Lou.  Or Lou-la”.  I was so wrapped up in her excitement, that I didn’t even notice my son peeling the rest of the egg away from his little dino-sponge.  
I turned to him, and there he sat, surrounded by egg shells, arms crossed, looking less than thrilled.  He held up his little dinosaur in the palm of his hand and said flatly, “Mom. This... is just a dumb sponge”.  
My daughter replied, “ told you that’s what happens when you stare at it for too long”.   
Her chick is still hatching.  And we know its real, 'cause we can still see the bubbles.  We think.  Because no one is allowed to look at it.  

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