We almost bought a house. The house was almost exactly what I wanted. Mid century, one level, multiple rooms, two wood burning fireplaces, amazing patio, out-dated kitchen and lime green tiled bathrooms. It had three acres of land with an already existing asparagus and rhubarb patch. Yes please. But it was in town. IN TOWN. Which meant that we wouldn't be able to have chickens or that occasional pig. But Dustin and I had talked ourselves out of needing those things, because the House was amazing. Us humans, we do that, get flexible. We even got Bug on board and he needed to be on board for this one, because he has been planning his chicken flock for over four years. He's read every book, taken two behavioral classes and made so many lists of what the perfect flock looks like, that I really needed him to understand why he wasn't going to be able to have that flock. And even though I had promised him a trip to the moon, his face said it all, sadness. I glossed over his one need in an effort to get everything else. Sometimes being part of a family means sacrifice. And it was his turn. or so I thought...
Then we spent the Fourth of July Holiday at my Parent's homestead. My Dad had spent the spring tinkering with incubating some fertile eggs and when we got there, he had a whole box of 'em! Bug spent every spare moment with these chicks. He would pet them, hold them, talk to them, it was downright adorable. One of the chicks had a bum leg that my Dad had tried to rehabilitate with little success. Bug was really concerned about this particular chicken. After a long, difficult conversation with my Dad about the need to kill this particular chicken, I watched my son grow a little older and a little more mature.
As I observed my son and pondered what he needed. I realize that this house wasn't for us. It's wasn't Bug that needed to sacrifice something, it was me. We only have seven or eight years left with our oldest. There is so much more I want to teach him, show him, give him. So many more experiences to be had, so many more lessons to live and so many more moments to be together. We could live in that "perfect" house on three acres, but that wasn't what he needed.
Dustin and I are growing wild children. Not poorly behaved children, but children who run around shoeless because they know exactly what poison ivy looks like. Children who eat lunch straight from the garden. Children who read books under the shade of their favorite tree. Children who know that peanuts are not related to potatoes. Chickens have always factored into this vision. And bees. And maybe a goat or a pig, who knows?
Bug needs those chickens. He needs the responsibility and the structure that owning this animal affords him. Sure, I know that there are lots of animals out there that could teach him some of those lessons, but those darn chickens have so much to teach him. The life and death cycle, the pecking order, health, cleanliness, omnivore tendencies and so much more. I know that some of you disagree and want different things for your children and that is exactly how it should be. But for ours, this is what we need, the freedom to be "wild".
So we didn't buy that house and sometimes at night I wake up and think about the parquet wood floors in the dining room. But that dining room wasn't worth the sacrifice of seeing my son turn into the kind of man we hope and expect him to be.