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OPINION

Caz: The chickens are pecking me to death

Mike Cazalas
The News Herald

My aunt has a wooden placard on a small shelf in her kitchen that simply says: “Raising children is liked being pecked to death by chickens.”

If only that were true. Unfortunately, the children have us figured out and never peck at us quite hard enough, rapidly enough and in great enough numbers to bring about what for some might be the sweet relief of rising to Heaven – where one hopes there is no pecking allowed.

More:CAZ: Our children are growing up, make it stop!

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The pecking comes in a thousand forms that all parents have experienced in one form or another.

17-day-old broiler chickens are shown inside a chicken house on a Perdue contract farm in Laurel, Delaware, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. The farm contains "enrichments" as a means to allow the birds to engage in natural behaviors, like perching, pecking and hiding, they would otherwise be unable to do on a barren floor.

As they age, however, the pecks seem to get less frequent but more jarring on the parent’s system. My son is 17 now.

We have a routine at our house, two guys living it up, playing by our own rules (which means he does what I say except for when I catch him not doing what I’m saying for him to do).

Mike Cazalas

We both awaken within a 15-minute timespan with 7 a.m. at the center. If it gets to be a little bit after 7 and I haven’t heard him stir it’s time for me to check on, which in this case means scream his name from downstairs to make sure he’s awake. This gives the added bonus for neighbors who might have overslept.

If that doesn’t bring a response – it’s about 50-50 – then I tromp upstairs and knock on his door and he’s almost always in the shower. He’s consistent enough that I really don’t need to assist, but I have a horrible phobia that he will oversleep and I’ll have to actually put on real clothes and drive him to school.

The new twist is that we have no “free” yard where we can release Buddy in the morning for him to do his business. He has to be walked on a leash and it has to be right when I awaken.

One morning last week I called out to my son and no answer. Knocked on his door, no answer, but the last 99 times that happened he was in the shower.

So I took Buddy for his brisk morning walk, ruing the day I bought a stupid townhouse with no yard. I returned about 15 minutes later, awake and alive and so grateful to have bought a beautiful townhouse with no yard to cut.

I called up to my son, no answer. Knocked on his door, no answer. Opened the door, no son in bed. Knocked on bathroom door, no answer. Opened bathroom door, no son.

The panic was almost immediate. He doesn’t have his driver’s license yet and all vehicles were in place – but he wasn’t and that had never happened before.

The fear hits fast when it’s your child and then the foolishness starts. I immediately feared he had snuck out (which he’s never done) and was God only knows where. Then I thought about it and decided he probably had been abducted by aliens or drugged and taken across the border.

His phone went to voicemail. I texted a politely short note, something like, “WHERE ARE YOU YOU BETTER CALL ME IMMEDIATELY!!!!”

I literally had to sit down and compose myself and think. Where could he be? What’s a reasonable explanation? At what point do you call the police and say you think your son snuck out and never came home? Is that even a police matter?

I decided if he didn’t show up for school, I was calling the police.

And my phone rang. It was my son. He was not happy.

“WHAT?” he asked in that way only a teenager can.

“Where are you????” I replied.

“At school, well, almost at school, (some girl, God help me) picked me up and we’re eating a bagle right now,” he said, emphasizing it wasn’t “dad time.”

In the scheme of things it is nothing, in a week we will have forgotten as we’ve already reset the morning rules.

And then it will be something else, nothing unique to any other parent.

But perhaps a cautionary note for younger parents – this apparently never ends and this morning I felt a new kind of fear that I didn’t even know existed.

Fear of being pecked to death by chickens.