You should be thankful for your children. Children are a gift. If a sufficient amount of time passes in your life as a parent and you still do not feel this way, get yourself some chickens. This isn’t a metaphor. If you really want to experience a new level of thankfulness for your children, raise chickens.
Chickens are the animal equivalent of humans in infancy for their entire lives. Chickens combine all the worst features of human babies with none of the best. A chicken remains a relatively small, helpless, unintelligent, and irritating creature who produces an inordinately high volume of daily fecal matter for their entire lives. Babies only feature these traits for about a year or two.
No matter how much care or even love you give to a chicken, it will continually walk right over you in a very literal sense. In much the same way a disobedient toddler exercises his or her will of whimsy at all costs, a chicken will never gain the ability to follow direction, listen, or adjust its behavior to become consistent with your expectation. A child will experience enough developmental growth to accomplish the task of active listening and comprehension by around the age of three or four.
Where the ‘raising chickens’ argument gets vague is in the real-time production of valuable goods. A mature hen produces an egg on average about every other day. This is a tangible commodity—a usable and renewable source of foodstuffs and/or currency should you choose to sell the eggs. A child does not produce material goods. In fact children do very much the opposite. They consume more and more as they age. In this sense, a chicken is more useful, right? Even a well-developed and cognitively advanced four-year-old cannot operate a rototiller. At this point you may be thinking, when exactly do kids become useful?
Yet in the ceaseless quest to be more thankful for your children, the totality of childhood versus the totality of chickenhood is a more suitable lens by which to do this. Chickens are at their absolute cutest when they are their smallest. As they grow they become more and more high maintenance and increasingly ugly. This is basically the inverse of a child.
A child, by most accounts, leaves the womb resembling something between Winston Churchill and a potato. As children age, they slowly reign in their capricious whimsy as they become cuter, move lovable, and more like real humans. While they will never produce predictable commodities like a chicken, they grow in a way that’s admirable and is something you as the parent can take pride in.
The pride you feel as a parent is your reward for a job well done.
There is no pride in raising chickens. Only the same old frustration you feel with an infant. Day. After. Day.
Be thankful for your children. They are a gift— a gift that never keeps giving. Watching a child grow, develop, and become a tiny human is perhaps the most lucrative commodity we have. If you still don’t agree, buy yourself some chickens and experience what it means to care for a being that never moves beyond the average capability of a three-month-old.