The Eggs Have It

This page written circa 27 May, 2002.

Having kids has stirred up something primordial in me, and I am not sure I like it. I feel ridiculously protective of both my children and children in general. I can no longer bear to watch drama where kids get hurt---even brief scenes such as in Traffik (the brilliant, biting progenitor of the neatly Americanized film `Traffic', starring Michael Douglas and Lindsay Duncan) really irk me. The slightest distress that Meri or Teddy feel, be it cough or hunger or hurt, really jerks my chain. I can't stand those pictures of starving babies that aid agencies like to use (for reasons I now understand).

In his book "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen", Harold McGee reflects in the chapter on egg chemistry on whether the egg or the chicken came first. He suggests three answers. The first is that the Chicken came first and this he characterises as the religious answer... after all the bible mentions god making creatures, no mention of making eggs. Next comes the suggestion that the egg came first. The recently-deceased Stephen Gould would take this view, since the selfish gene sees the chicken, neatly stated by McGee, as simply the vehicle chosen by the egg DNA to propagate itself. The third answer he gives is the "common sense one", that neither came first but that they grew together (I condense).

Well, you gotta think McGee hadn't had kids when he penned that! If anyone was ever a victim of their genes it is me now. It does not quite work as basically as instinct, for I did not feel this with Amelia and it does not work in response to bonding with adults, at least not with me. It is a response triggered by a relationship with a child, such as a parent develops, and probably enhanced by the perception that the child is one's own. In any case it's bloody unshakeable.

Perhaps Oolon Colluphid was right after all: The eggs have it, thus by the McGee axiom, god must not exist. Quod Erat Demonstrandum, Oolon would say.

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