Ruth’s young daughter, Sarah, had developed a fascination with babies. Their neighbour, Clare, was about to have her third child and Sarah was obsessed with the whole process. She’d seen the scan photos, felt the baby kick and was forever bombarding poor Clare with personal questions which thankfully were taken with great understanding and good humour.
When Sarah started studying reproduction in school her curiosity was heightened further and sex seemed to be everywhere. Wildlife was procreating wherever she looked, from rabbits in the local field to a pair of dogs on the way to school.
As Easter approached, Sarah naturally became focused on eggs. However, much as she loved the chocolate kind, she was more concerned with the shell covered kind and was determined to hatch a chick for herself. She used her pocket money to buy a box of eggs, wrapped them in a towel and tucked them in the back of the airing cupboard. Before placing them in their ‘incubator’ she carefully wrote a name on each egg in blue and pink felt tip. She guessed at which ones might be girls and which boys. The names were well considered and appropriate: Humpty, Dumpty, Fluffy, Licken, Beaky and Kellogg.
Ruth only discovered this enterprising project a few days later when she went to get clean sheets out of the cupboard. She pulled out some pillow cases and the box of eggs fell to the floor. Fortunately, they were still in their box so the beige carpet was safe but sadly only Kellogg remained unbroken.
Ruth explained to her daughter that a cockerel needed to fertilise the eggs before they could develop into chicks and that led to a detailed anatomical and logistical discussion which was only concluded when Ruth suggested a glass of orange squash and a couple of bourbon biscuits.
Later that week Ruth and Sam went to the parents’ evening at Sarah’s primary school. All was fine and Mrs Briar was very complimentary about Sarah’s interest in the science topic, praising Ruth and Sam for their refreshingly open minded attitude. Sam smiled and Ruth blushed for a moment but they didn’t think any more about it. That was until they talked to Sarah’s form teacher.
Mrs Jones was approaching retirement and had a traditional style of teaching. She was very kind to the children but had a long held view that parents belonged at home and nowhere near her classroom.
As Sam and Ruth approached her table she seemed to sit up a little bit straighter and take a deep breath, as if in preparation for a challenge. Ruth immediately became nervous. Was Sarah naughty? Did she talk too much? Had she fallen behind in some way?
Mrs Jones smiled politely and shook them by the hand. Her manner was professional but unusually distracted as she shuffled exercise books and examined her notes.
“Sarah is an endearing child isn’t she? She’s so enthusiastic about her work… She’s progressing well with her tables and I gather Mrs Briar has already spoken to you about her science?”
There was then a noticeable pause and Mrs Jones tried to avoid eye contact.
“Did Mrs Briar mention anything in particular? No? Ah… well… perhaps I should say something then…”
This comment was followed by another pause and a clearing of the throat.
“Don’t worry, Sarah is doing extremely well. She’s very creative, particularly with her story writing. However, I thought I just better bring one recent piece of work to your attention. Perhaps you should read it when you get home? If it’s carefully torn out from her book, on this occasion, we would quite understand…”
She held out a blue exercise book and smiled supportively.
As soon as they reached the car Ruth and Sam opened the book. The title read “What I like about my life”. This seemed uncontroversial enough. Then they began to read…
“I am very lucky to be alive. If my parents hadn’t had sex, I wouldn’t be here. My Daddy has fertilised my Mummy three times now. She must like it very much. The lady next door must like it too. The poor hens at the farm didn’t have a cock to fertilise them and so their eggs stayed runny. Mummy says that having a baby is like laying a very big egg but it must be harder to push out because of all the arms and legs. I hope my Mummy and Daddy have sex again soon as I would like a sister…”
Copyright Sarah Lott
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