As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bye Bye Birdie

One farming lesson I didn't expect to teach my kids is that we don't actually live on a farm.  We live in a subdivision.  And while we are doing our best to make do with the space we have, there are some things we just can't make work.  Case in point - our rooster.

I first began thinking of finding him a new home when I noticed patches of feathers missing from some of our hens' backs.  When I visited a local petting zoo and noticed that despite sharing space with a rooster none of their hens were missing feathers, I felt even more sorry for our girls.  But the final straw was when it came to our attention that some of our neighbors have not been able to sleep through his early (very early) morning crow for quite some time.  So we began the process of finding him a new home.

When I told the kids about it, my second son had a hard time.  I should tell you two things about him:  1, he is very sensitive.  And 2, he never (never!) played with that rooster.  When my grumpy childhood cat who hated the kids and lurked in the shadows never to be seen by them lest he hiss at them, had to be put down a few years ago, we sat all the kids down and told them.  Two months after he had gone we were sitting in our living room when out of nowhere my boy asks, "Where's Samson?"  He proceeded to weep bitterly for the cat who never liked him.  He has a soft heart.

So it was tough telling him about the rooster.  He was crushed.  For a split second I thought, "Maybe I should keep him," or "Maybe I should have the neighbors tell him why we have to get rid of his rooster."  But I knew the reality was this - we don't live on a farm with acres and acres of space.  We live in a subdivision, with neighbors close by.  And I did my best to explain to him (and all the kids, who all wanted to keep him) about being responsible to the people around us, that it matters that he's waking people at 4 am and how we don't want to be the cause of that for someone else.  It was a hard conversation, because I saw the hurt in my boy's eyes and more than anything wanted to spare him from that, to just keep the rooster.  But I couldn't.

The kids helped me put up posters around our neighborhood, not really expecting anyone to take him (because it's really, really hard to give away a rooster!) We asked the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi (patron of animals) and St. Isidore the farmer (patron of farmers) to help us find a home for our rooster. We talked about slaughtering him if nobody was able to take him, but in the end decided that was possibly a little too harsh (he can't help being a rooster after all).  Still every morning since then I sat in my house, listening to his crow and praying someone wasn't laying in their bed cursing me for it.  Then bright and early this morning, our phone rang.  A nice couple stopped on their way by to pick him up.  They had seen one of our posters, and had raised chickens before.  They were kind and gentle and called him by name, and while the kids were all still asleep took our rooster away to what I hope will be a happy home for him.

My sensitive boy was the first to get up.  I braced myself for the worst, and gave him the news straight off the bat.  And you know what?  He was okay with it.  He didn't cry at all.  And I was able to see what a good thing had come from working through this problem with him.  I wanted to keep this rooster, this animal that he never played with, because I wanted to spare him the pain he was feeling in that moment of loss.  But when the loss actually came to be, it didn't make a difference to him.  What did, I hope, was the fact that the people around you are important too, and that sometimes we have to give up something we love in order to not be a burden on those around us.  They are all still a bit sad, but they understand.  And I hope they are better for having done this with us.

I never want to hide these kinds of things from my kids, or do them in secret.  And when I see them handle what for them is a big deal with such strength, it makes me proud.  We sat down to breakfast thankful that the Lord had answered our prayers, and I am so proud of the way my boy surrendered in the end to this situation. When we force our kids to confront things they are afraid of, they surprise us.

I'll miss that rooster and his crow.  But tomorrow morning, I will breathe a little easier knowing that some of our neighbors are resting a little more soundly.

Hope you're in greener pastures Chester, we'll miss you!

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