As a homeschooling mom, I’m always in search of educational activities and projects that will engage my children. When a friend told me about a local embryology program, we were sold. After several days of tweaking the thermostat and water levels in our borrowed incubator, the humidity and temperature were just right. We gently positioned the eggs, marked the calendar, and geared up for twenty-one days of waiting. I was unprepared for the lessons we would all learn about life during those three weeks.
A host of educational materials were provided along with the incubator and eggs. Although much of it was over my kindergartener’s heads, they were enthralled by the chart that chronicled the metamorphosis taking place within the eggs each day. My boys were amazed to learn that only two days after fertilization, the circulatory system begins to form and is visible. On the third day, the heart begins to beat. By day six, the heart, brain and eyes are prominent. The beak appears.
Learning how the baby chicks were forming within the sanctuary of their shells was remarkable. There was absolutely no external evidence to indicate that anything was happening within the shells. Our precious eggs could have easily been mistaken for the makings of an omelet. Yet, as I was able to teach my boys, there was a crucial difference between these eggs and the ones in the carton in our fridge. The eggs resting peacefully within our incubator had life in them.
True to the glossy poster that expounded on their daily progress, our chicks hatched right on schedule. It was pure magic to hear the peeps from within the eggs and watch as they struggled free from the sturdy shells. In the end, only three of our dozen eggs managed to hatch. Peep, Cutie, and Shy entered the world amidst much fanfare and camera flashes that would rival a crowd of paparazzi. It struck me that my boys regarded the “duds” with a sense of sad reverence. They insisted that the un-hatched eggs be disposed of in a respectful manner.
The wisdom of children to comprehend common sense truths struck me anew. There was no political agenda muddying the waters for them. From day one, my kids never once considered the eggs mere ovals that had the potential to change into chickens. Instead, each and every one of them housed a living chick temporarily cloaked in a shell.
The project provided me with an ideal opportunity to speak with my boys about human babies and draw parallels between the fledgling chicks within the eggs and a baby forming inside its mother. However, I realized that I was failing to teach them anything they didn’t already instinctively know. Of course a baby was alive within its mother. They knew it was a baby from the very moment it began to develop and grow. I am so thankful for the chance we’ve had to focus on the miracle of life, both human and avian. I pray that our country will adopt this child-like logic and fiercely fight to protect life.