Chicken Soup for the Well-Educated Fetus

By Anthony Kovatch, M.D., Pediatric Alliance — Arcadia Division

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

(Musical Accompaniment: “God Bless the Child” by Blood, Sweat and Tears)

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


The prenatal education of the fetus Miles — including Breast Feeding 101 — was completed well ahead of his anticipated arrival. His nursery had been impeccably fashioned by his loving parents as a room suitable for a lad of noble birth and great expectations. All those who already loved him, especially his aging grandparents, had their eyes glued to their cell phones in anticipation of some indicator that the birth process was commencing.

But the well-educated fetus was procrastinating — unwilling to break away from the comfort of the womb — apprehensive of entering the tempestuous world he had been hearing about from Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Not to be judged; just a fear all sentient beings wake up to every day as the sun arises. Call it “natophobia” if you will — the fear of being born. Unaware that “who isn’t busy being born is busy dying.”

A new version of the Chicken Soup series was in order — a sequel to the “The Education of Master Miles” — written in the blueprint of ten commandments. And the tenets must be respected (they can never be always remembered) for a lifetime:


1. Forgiveness is the lifeblood of happiness and serenity — especially forgiveness of one’s own wrongs and mistakes. There is NO affront that is so great that it cannot be forgiven.

2. Never forget to keep doing the “little things”; they are the lifeblood of all relationships. They are not the main thing — they are the ONLY thing.

3. As the poet said: “I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul.” Be the HERO of your own life, always working for the best boss — yourself. This is my mantra for surviving workplace politics: Work hard and shut up!

4. Summon all your inner strength in times of great hardship, which can seem as ubiquitous as the weeds around us. Remember the old saying: “It is not the gale, but the set of the sail which makes the ship go.”

5. Do not fall prey to the old lie: Blood is thicker than water. Cultivate good friendships and try to have a positive influence on all strangers who are “going your way.” Your life will be molded by heroes other than your nuclear family.

6. The greatest tragedy of the human condition is that the young child has no recollection of the overwhelming admiration and backbreaking care bestowed on him by his parents in the first three or so formative years of his life. NEVER forget this! Do not believe the great lie of Oscar Wilde: “All children start out loving their parents; next, they judge them: rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.” (He was likely stoned when he wrote this!)

7. Grandparents and great grandparents are like monumental libraries which cannot wait to impart their wisdom to you. They may not know how to operate a computer, but they are privy to everything you will someday want to know about your parents. Suck that wisdom dry before they are gone.

8. All human beings have a heart of light and a heart of darkness, which have been compared to a lamb and a wolf, respectively. Always look for the lamb in any individual, but beware the wolf. Within yourself, the heart you will reveal to the world will be the one that you feed.

9. This commandment will be the hardest to remember because it is the basis for all morality and all that we believe regarding heaven and earth: “Most of all to thy own self be true — then thou cannot be false to any man.” (William Shakespeare)

10. Since you live near Baltimore your parents will try to make you, like themselves, a RAVENS fan (in spite of the Pittsburgh roots of your grandparents). This is UNFORGIVABLE and will not be tolerated!!! (Sorry, Miles, I need to go back to #1.)


No infant comes into this world with an owner’s manual for its parents. And even if it did, education is never truly complete. They say that if you teach a man how to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime. Well, Miles, here are the ground rules as one old man sees them. Here is your playbook. The rest is up to you!


Papap (or whatever you decide to call me.)