Wednesday, January 18, 2012


So if you throw a football straight up to an impressive height, it is deceptively difficult to catch on its way down. I'm no aerospace engineer and cannot explain why this is, but I have witnessed the phenomenon many times; the empirical evidence is strong.*

Last summer, I was horsing around with my kids in the yard and I nonchalantly mentioned that if they could catch my "high-ball" we could get a pet cow. Not realizing the difficulty of the task, they sensed an easy victory. I played along, told them they could take turns riding it to school. Their imaginations ignited and I could see wild dreams forming in their naive little brains.

Anyway, I chucked a wobbler straight up as high as I could, marveled momentarily at how weak my arm had become since I had last attempted such a feat, worried for an instant that the ball would smack one of my kids in the face when they tried to catch it, and then began to panic when I realized that my unimpressive throw was looking very catchable.

Sure enough, my 6-year old trapped it between his right shoulder and his ear, with his left hand on the ball, and the celebration was on. Absolute bedlam for about 30 minutes. I sat quietly in the grass and contemplated loop holes in my offer.  They categorically refused my "double-or-nothing" gambit.

Now, I always make a big deal to the little brats about the importance of keeping your word, so I knew I was in a tough spot. No way the wife was going to allow me to bring home a pet cow. I tried a few buy-out offers with ice cream and other treats, but the kids knew they had me over a barrel and they weren't about to go for anything less than a substantial pet.

I bided my time throughout the fall, tested the waters here and there to see if their resolve had weakened, and eventually, my opportunity came. Following a school project, they became very excited about the prospect of incubating eggs and hatching chicks. I feigned agreement, pretending to consider the idea until they were quivering with joy. Then, I changed my tone and informed them that I could only agree to such a project under one condition: the chicks would have to replace the cow-debt on the family balance sheet.

By this time, they had become too emotionally invested in the prospect of chicks to refuse my terms and we struck the deal. The wife was a good sport and did all of the research on incubators, found a source of fertilized eggs, and secured an arrangement at a local farm that would adopt the chicks after we brooded them for a few weeks.

They're supposed to hatch after 18-21 days in the incubator. Tomorrow is day 19. There have been reports of pecking sounds from a couple of the eggs, and the kids are positively giddy.

Guess they'll never know the joy of riding a cow to school.
* Imaginary Reader Dan can attest.


  1. Jeff Ryer1/20/2012

    If only I had my former career (assuming my former company had not shuttered the investment bank) then I would have my old extensive travel budget that could afford me to travel to the Orange Coast. I would then use one of my random visits to your hacienda, after the chickens have been put out to the farm (I am sure you think the kids are OK with the thought that the chickens will one day be sent home to roost, but I bet that day is going to be a tough one for ya)and then work those kids into believing that old dad pulled a fast one on them, with the temporary chicken hosting plan, and that they should demand the cow. That would serve you right - thinking you can throw a ball high enough your kids can't catch it.

  2. Anonymous1/21/2012

    I love this story!! This is one of my all time favorite WWDS posts. My favorite one will be the one with pictures and the story about life with the baby chickens.