Lessons learned in putting others before yourself
by MATT RYERSON, Editorial Columnist
Mar 13, 2013 | 765 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The day you walk into your house and you have a box full of chicks chirping at you is the day you realize that you are officially a farmer.

Yes, we are raising chickens. Although we only have 10, six of which are actually ours, four of these little darlings are for our neighbor Ben. You might be asking, “Why are you raising four chickens for your neighbor?” Well, that my friend, is another story altogether.

In short, Ben previously had four adult hens. You might note that I used the word “previously.”

You see, our dog loves chickens. He thinks they are cute. He thinks they are cuddly. And he thinks they are toys. Ultimately, he loved Ben’s chickens to death ... literally. I’ll spare you the details, a bit too traumatic to relive.

Nonetheless, the Ryerson family felt a duty to replace his lost flock with newly hatched chicks. We already have a few chickens ourselves, so we decided to add to our egg-laying clan and now I have 10 chirping little chicks in my house.

If you know much about chickens, which I unfortunately do now, chicks don’t have the greatest life expectancy. In any 10 chicks, it is quite possible that a few won’t make it. So far, we’ve only lost one. Nonetheless, we needed to tell our kids about that loss.

When we told our son, he was clearly sad. However, after a few moments, he simply asked, “Can we give the dead one to Ben?”

Not his most selfless moment, but he is only 6. Besides, do you think Ben would even notice that the little chick wasn’t moving much ... or growing ... or breathing?

On a separate note, we recently signed our kids up for swimming lessons. On the day of the first lesson, our daughter’s class went first and our son’s class went second. As any 6-year-old would be, he was disappointed not to be first in the pool. My wife simply asked him, “What does the Bible say about that?”

He disappointedly but knowingly responded, “I know ... put others before yourself.” But then he added, “But Mommy, if we all did that, we’d all just be standing around looking at each other saying, ‘You go first. No, you go first.’”

Good point.

I recently had to leave for work early in the morning. Our son was awake, but our daughter was still in bed. As I was leaving, I asked him to give our daughter a hug and kiss and tell her it was from Daddy. He looked up at me and said, “OK.”

After a small pause, he responded with what he clearly thought was a great idea, “OR, you could go wake her up and do it yourself.” Not exactly what I had in mind.

Putting others before yourself is a lesson we are diligently trying to teach our children, but sometimes logic gets in the way. It’s a lesson we all could practice more frequently.

So Ben, you go first. Pick the first chick ... just pick the quiet one that isn’t moving in the corner.

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(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful wife, a son, two daughters, Tucker, and five chickens. The Ryerson family will now have 10 chickens ... assuming they all survive ... not a safe assumption. Matt’s column appears every other Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)