Sparkle, A Savvy Story
(Possible alternate title: Sparkle The Chicken, A Savvy Story)
It’s time to consider moving our pet chicken, Sparkle (no S; it’s not Sparkles), over to Grandma’s farm. Because we staged it properly (by sheer luck, but also because I know my daughter) it shouldn’t be a traumatic event.
I’m mentioning that since Sparke was in fact my daughter Savvy’s pet, and Savvy is a big girl now, so Savvy needed to start taking the lead in the care and feeding, etc., of Sparkle.
I shrewdly mentioned that meant daily water and food, among other things.
Which meant Savvy needed to get up 30 minutes earlier . . . (this was met with a small sigh)
Which meant going to bed 30 minutes earlier . . . (this was met with a larger sigh)
And also spending time each weekend—before my daughter could go swimming—cleaning the chicken coop we kept on our back porch/pool deck area.
That was met with a heaving of the shoulders and an audible “Ugh.”
Or, I proposed, we can take Sparkle to Grandma’s and let Grandma do it.
(The Grandma thing had been suggested from the day the baby chick came home, that we would only keep her for a while and eventually she would go to Grandma’s farm. That isn’t such a bad thing, because Grandma lives five minutes away and has about forty chickens on her farm. Savvy also goes to Grandma’s every Wednesday so it’s not like she’d never see Sparkle again. Not like some story where you tell the kid the family dog is going to live on a nice big farm when really the mutt is headed to the pound or the vet’s to be put down. This isn’t that.)
And so an idea that a friend suggested – writing a story about our pet chicken – seems like it may come to fruition.
There’s a lot of pots on this particular stove.
However . . .
IF I were to tell the story, it’d be reverting back to a style I haven’t really done in a while (which is fine).
And it would require an – DUN DUN DUNNNN – outline.
See, I put ideas down so I don’t forget anything good (you’ll see that in a sec), and I write using that as a guide.
Add an intended starting place and a finish line, and it’s an—horrors—outline!
Also, it’d take a while to do, but as with most things written by me, once the idea goes from a NO to a maybe, it usually goes to YES pretty quickly.
(Right now my editor is reading this and thinking the yes part has already occurred. She is shaking her head. I can see if from here.)
If that were to happen – the story thing – it might be worthwhile to tell you about it along the way.
Let you see the process, so to speak, because it’s pretty much how I do every story.
So in the unlikely event that this story happens, this is day 1 of the adventure.
If writing a story can be called an adventure. For writer types, I guess it is.
So over the past hour or so I jotted down what my thoughts were, creating a bit of a story – that’d be the ending and the epilogue, which you’ll see in a moment unless you scrolled down – and then backtracking to start an outline and a few notes that explain what’s going on. Which is what you’re reading right now. (Again, unless you scrolled, but then you wouldn’t be reading this… so I’ll keep going, shall I?)
Writing my thoughts for the ending now was necessary because that’s where my head was at. I’m talented enough to do it equally well later, but I’m also creative enough to want to capture the nature of the words this particular mindset has in it.
I believe we choose different words and structure our sentences differently if we write when we are actually sad, as opposed to recalling the sadness later.
Both are necessary, but one is important for reasons I haven’t identified. It’s as though the digital 1’s and 0’s that make up the computer language’s words that are written in that mindset somehow capture the resonance of the writer’s mood, conveying it better to the reader. Editing is required to make sure the words do their job, but the mood is required, I think, to really capture the emotion. It’s always seemed to do that for me. When I write with actual emotion, readers seem to get those passages better.
Anyway, this is where we are as of 7:34AM on May 13, 2017. Plus another fifteen minutes or so of revisions and edits.
If more happens, I’ll let you know.
These are just notes, so forgive the shorthand. That’s the process. (I took out most of the typos.)
Working out and get a text, knew we’d adopted a baby chick
Welcome Sparkles – not a typo. For at least a month we all thought the chicken’s name was Sparkles, when one day our daughter announced it had no S. Sparkle, not Sparkles. We have basically said it wrong 50% of the time ever since. But I know Savvy called it Sparkles for at least a week when it first arrived, dammit. She forgot the name, and changed it.
Nightmares I’d heard about birds – from parakeets to my brother’s bird to Ellie May Clampett to being laid back and maybe finding the good side of it
The story of old McMickey’s farm (school field trip) and the kid who wouldn’t touch anything (ours), terrified in the chicken coop
Maybe not a bad idea to have a baby chick. She’ll grow out of the squeamishness. Went from fearless at age 2 to afraid of bugs like ants by age 5
Baby chick fun: lots of petting and snuggling (baby chicks are SOFT and they say peep peep peep)
Medium Grown up chicken fun: putting a scarf on it, reading stories to it, rides in the big Barbie motorized Jeep
Taking Sparkles to school for show and tell
Playing every day – because before Christmas
As soon as this phase passes it goes to grandma’s
Building a coop (big enough to sit inside – oops, poop)
Pool deck petting, parades, car rides, scooter rides
Turtottle the tiny turtle (at Grandma’s, found in Grandma’s pool), and touching, feeding, eventually playing, putting in a toy truck and taking the turtle for walks across the living room)
Post Christmas – no playing with Sparkle = time to move her?
Heat lamps and storms
Madeline’s house of lizards
Growing up. Why not have a chicken? Maybe it’ll be her hobby
Eggs – eat? Sell? Make brownies? Take to grandma’s.
Eggs, eating finally (us not Savvy)
Sparkle loves you so much she wants to provide you breakfast
Big chickens poop a lot
They dig up your plants
In the end, we loved Sparkle—all of us. And if you love something, you have to do what’s best for it.
For Sparkle, we knew that as much as she loved us, and loved chasing our daughter around the pool, and sitting in our laps (yes mine too when nobody was looking) that meant letting her not be so lonely—and moving her to where she’d have other chicken friends. I saw this when our daughter started school. Going from an only child household to a room full of boys and girls her age, she didn’t miss her parents; she forgot she even had parents. And I knew if Sparkle could talk she’d never admit what we all knew. She was lonely most of the time. Thirty minute here and there during the week, and a few hours on the weekend? Not enough for such a social bird.
She was a product of her upbringing, and our very social daughter had brought her up. She needed people, but she’d be happy surrounded by others. Even if they were chickens. And who knows, maybe she’d like them even better.
I doubt it, but who knows.
Sparkle was fine at Grandma’s. Savvy visited every week, reading her pet chicken new stories and playing in the yard.
Sparkle seemed happy, and that was best. She laid eggs every day for grandma (still taking Sundays off, of course) and she seemed to like her new chicken friends.
We were happy to have our pool deck back, and to not have poop everywhere. The tomatoes started growing again now that nobody was digging them up every day.
Still . . .
When it’s just me, I occasionally wander out onto the back porch and think about a tiny parade around the pool, led by a child and followed by a baby chick and a curious poodle.
Rides in the motorized Barbie Jeep with a chicken passenger.
Scooter lessons with a willing but terrified chicken student.
I mean, I’m happy. The porch stays cleaner. It doesn’t smell. And there aren’t wood chips and poop to clean up.
We’re busy people. There’s work and school and vacations. We can’t have that kind of a pet.
One that follows you everywhere and greets you each morning with such enthusiasm.
I don’t know . . .
She was a sweet bird, and we can’t exactly uproot her now that she’s made all those new friends at grandma’s.
Maybe we should think about getting another baby chick and just see how it goes.
(that would be followed by THE END)
Readers of Savvy Stories will see the same “feel” here as in those books, a combination of learning on the part of the kid and the parent. As it should be. And some memories being captured, too, I guess. Nothing wrong with that.
* Reaches for tissue *
Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious new romance novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.”
Get your copy HERE.