Sunday, May 04, 2008

Little Birdies

I was talking to my mom on the phone this evening, chasing Hunter down the sidewalk on his big wheel trike, when I saw a little bird hopping along. Actually, it was pretty big, so I wondered why it didn't fly away from us. A bigger blue jay swooped down by the bird and stood it's guard, then flew back up in the trees again. As this little bird hopped I realized it may be big, but was too small to fly yet.
I told Hunter we needed to head back home because this birdie's mama and daddy were checking on it and they did not look too happy to have us so close. They were flying back and forth between the trees right above our heads, calling out to the baby telling him it was okay, no doubt.
All the while I'm watching this I'm relaying what's going on to my mom. She was chuckling because I obviously haven't changed much since I was 8. I used to bring home every poor baby bird who had fallen out of a nest that I came across. My mom would give me a shoe box and I'd try to make the baby bird comfortable, only to have my heart broken when I'd find it dead the next morning. I felt awful that I couldn't take care of a baby bird.
As this baby bird hopped around aimlessly today, I noticed that Hunter was hopping too. He was telling the bird, "Jump birdie, jump!" Then he started to flap his arms and he was telling the bird to fly. So here's Hunter, running around in circles in front of the bird flapping his arms and hopping, trying to "teach" the little birdie how to fly. It was just instinct for him to do that. He doesn't know that this baby wasn't supposed to be on the ground. That it was too soon for the baby to leave it's nest. For Hunter, this was an equal. A fellow toddler who had just stumbled a little like his friends in playgroup sometimes do.
We let the baby hop up a hill and conceal itself behind a bush. His daddy flew down to check on him a few times, but unfortunately we have several cats that roam the neighborhood and I'd be surprised if the baby bird was still around in the morning.
Then another thought hit me. This mom and dad are completely helpless. They can do absolutely nothing for their baby. They flew down to check on him, and you could see and feel their panic, yet they couldn't help him. There was no way they'd ever get him back up in the nest, and blue jays can't really fight off an attacking cat the way maybe a hawk could. And somehow I'm guessing the nature world isn't *really* like a Disney movie where they could just call their hawk friend to help them. Especially since in real life the hawk would just eat the defenseless baby bird.
I think almost all parents will at some point feel like the mama and daddy blue jay. They'll feel that desperateness where you know that you can do nothing to help your children. I thank God I'm not at that point, but with three kids, it's bound to happen. Even the most perfect parents have that one renegade, the one with the restless soul. I've been that one for my parents, as has my sister at one point. We've both put them through trials and challenges and come out just fine on the other end. Some kids don't. Sometimes a big cat comes along and the parents can't do much more than watch.
I have a tattoo on my leg of three birdies with their wings spread. That's my metaphor for the kids. They are my birdies. I work hard at giving them their flight wings, like Hunter worked hard with the baby bird today. It's instinct. Not really anything my mom could have taught me, just something I had to learn on my own. I hope I'm doing a good job. I've got three great kids. But some day they'll find those wings and fly and all I can do is pray. Pray I've instilled good morals, a solid Christian base, and the knowledge that they can return to the nest whenever their wings get tired.

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