A few weeks back, we took a walk on the path by our house. We walk on this path frequently, and the kids always find golf balls, walnuts, pine cones, sticks, and other treasures. This day, however, Sylvie shouts out, "I found an egg!" She opens her little palm, and shows me a tiny bird egg, whole and speckled. Walter runs over to see. They can't believe it. They are making plans faster than I can process what's happening. Suddenly we are walking back toward home, and they are going to hatch that egg.
Now, I know that the chances of the egg containing a live bird are pretty much zero. I cautiously tell them, "I don't think an egg can survive once it's fallen from the nest." But they have the hope that only children can have, and I'm not about to squash it. I will let them try, there is no harm in that.
The walk home is fraught with anxiety. She wants to carry the egg, because she found it. She closes her fist around it, and runs down the asphalt path, arms swinging. He shouts every few seconds, "Don't drop it! Walk slower! Are you squeezing it?!?! Can you walk in the grass so that if it falls it won't break?" He is sure it won't make it home. She lets him carry it the last bit of the way.
Once inside the house, they make a nest out of a tissue, and put it under our living room lamp, for warmth.
The egg sits under our lamp for over 3 weeks. If either kid makes a loud noise, the other exclaims, "Remember! The egg! Shhh!" They think loud noises will hurt the bird's ears.
Finally they decide that it isn't going to hatch. We made plans to bury it, but haven't done it yet. Walter is riding his bike out front, and comes screaming into the house, "I found another egg!" He did indeed find another tiny egg, this time right on the road. I pick it up and we discover that it has cracked. I get a small shovel, and they take turns digging a hole. Sylvia puts in the egg she found, Walter puts in the egg he found. She says, "Good-bye baby birds, we love you!" He is quite tearful, and tells me several times throughout the rest of the day how sad he is about the eggs.
This stuff matters to them. I hope they know that it matters to me too.