Children and chickens

As you know, my daughter Lisa, and her husband Karel, have just had their third child, Zora. Petra, their oldest child (5), has some understanding that Zora came from her mother’s tummy. Milan (3) is pretty clueless.

A few weeks before Lisa was scheduled to give birth, Karel returned to his teaching duties. Among other things, he teaches biology. He decided that it would be a good learning experience for his students to incubate live chicken eggs, and watch the tiny little beings emerge from their individual eggs. Petra and Milan frequently went with Karel to school during the weekends to make sure the chicks were maturing properly in the eggs. They adjusted the incubator temperature and that sort of thing.

During this time, Zora came into the world and she is now home. Petra and Milan love to hold her. Coincidentally, the chicks hatched this week. Below, see the photo of Milan and Petra reacting to the brood of chicks that have made their startling appearance in Karel’s lab. Notice Milan’s facial expression.

photo (1)

Now, go back in time with me to 1980. My first wife, Verdella, is not feeling well and she has gained a little weight. Because she is tall, a bit of extra weight is not apparent on her long frame. Verdella goes to see the local doctor. He makes a referral to an OB/GYN in Lincoln because “your uterus just doesn’t feel right.”

Verdella decides to take Marne (about 8) and Lisa (about 5) with her to see the OB/GYN in Lincoln. After the visit, the three of them will do something fun in the big city. When they arrive at the doctor’s office, the children, who are all dressed up, sit quietly in the waiting room paging through books for children as Verdella sees the doctor. An ultrasound quickly shows why Verdella is not feeling well and has gained a little weight. She is pregnant with our son Keller.

Verdella is stunned and surprised. We had no plans to have a third child. Collecting herself, she walks into the waiting room and sits down with the children. The shock shows on her face. Marne asks her mom what is wrong. Verdella says she is “pregnant.” Marne asks Verdella to tell her what “pregnant” means. Verdella patiently explains and includes a passing reference to the “egg.” Lisa is silent. Both children seem perfectly satisfied with Verdella’s explanation and off everyone goes to the car.

As they are walking to the car, little Lisa asks Marne: “Is Mom going to have a chicken?” Marne looks down, and sternly informs Lisa, “If Mom has a chicken, we’ll love it anyway.” At that point, Verdella burst out laughing and crying at the same time.

Some things are more important than others.


13 responses

  1. Judge:
    After several days of discussing innocent defendants being put to death and the possible impeachment of a sitting federal judge, I can assure you that this was a blog entry that was needed. Precious story.

  2. It has always seemed to me that the nature of blog commenting tends toward criticism, which is more interesting than “Ditto.” (This is what got me in trouble on SHG’s blog, who is always right.) Hence I almost didn’t comment on this post. Beautiful story. And if I haven’t said so before, thank you for this blog, which despite my frequent criticisms, can’t help but soften my opinion of the judiciary in general, and give me hope.

  3. Robert,

    Aside from the joy I that I get from writing about my grandchildren, I write these “puff” pieces for a distinct reason. Federal judges are not so different than anyone else. Hopefully, pieces like this give the reader some reason to believe the truth of the sentence that precedes this one.

    All the best.


  4. Alas, my experience of federal as opposed to state courts is minimal. I say Alas because that minimal experience has confirmed for me the far superior reputation of the former over the latter. In a civil case, I filed a motion to dismiss based on the “amount in controversy.” Months later came a 20+ page (it might have even been 30 pages) opinion denying my motion. The thought and care that went into the opinion surprised both my opposing counsel (an experienced federal practitioner) and me, especially when you consider (as you could gather from the nature of the argument) that this was a relatively low value case. I was flattered in that it suggested to me that, despite this being the first federal civil case I’d ever handled, I’d come up with an argument that somehow had not occurred before, and I wondered whether such time and care was put into the analysis in such a low value case because the analysis might be useful elsewhere. Even though I lost, I was satisfied, which does not reflect my experience with many of my losses in state court. (We settled the case shortly after this ruling, by the way.) In other comments on this blog I’ve expressed my ideal fantasy of government from the ground up. The “up” and confederal part of that fantasy remains key, however, as the need for an appeal to a “higher authority” remains key.

  5. After hitting publish on my last comment I see that it probably comes across as a complete non sequitur and not really in the spirit of the post. It’s just that, while you might not have had the distinction in mind, it struck me that it’s not “judges” who aren’t so different from other people, but “federal judges.” Perhaps the common thinking is that the latter are even more different from common people than the former, but my thinking ran in the opposite direction. Apologies also for my gratuitous and insecure suggestion that I’d come up with a brilliant argument in one of my few appearances in federal court. SHG would have deleted that comment, and this one, for sure, for once justifiably!

  6. repentinglawyer,

    Your too kind. The fact that “little Lisa” who looks so much like her Mom these days uttered those words so long ago but now will be required to explain all about “eggs” makes me shutter just a bit for her “chickens.” Not much has changed since 1980. All the best.


  7. Great post! Your mention of Petra having some understanding that Zora came from her mother’s tummy causes me to think fondly of one of my favorite stories of my children. Several years ago I was in my car at a stoplight when my daughter Annie, then 5, said, out of the blue, “Daddy, I know a new baby would come from mommy’s tummy, but how would it get in there in the first place?” Completely unprepared for this conversation (and a little worried that Annie knew something I didn’t about a new baby), I intelligently responded with “Um . . . um . . . um . . . um . . .” Clearly getting impatient with me, Annie accusingly and somewhat triumphantly said, “You don’t know, do you Daddy?” With great relief, I said, “Nope, I don’t know.” And the topic did not come up again, at least with Daddy.

  8. What a moving and entertaining post. Anything you write about Petra, Milan and now Zora will be a winner. I appreciate seeing their photos and Milan has quite the look on his face. Elaine Mittleman

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