Parenting: For The Birds?
One of the tasks of my most recent gig (yes, there have been a few more than I’m proud of) was spending roughly 15 minutes in the morning unlocking campers on the lot. At the end of the day, we’d make our rounds and lock them back up.
Okay, technically, I can’t really say ‘we’ since I was part of a duo and my partner in crime rarely made his rounds. I looked at it as a chance though to get off my duff and get some fresh air. And if you’ve seen this duff lately, you know that a little bit of walking could go a long way.
Check it out sometime. It’s quite spectacular really.
Anyhootie, one early morning, shortly after spring had sprung and the air was fresh as it can be with the exhausting humidity we have ’round this neck o’ the prairie, I noticed an ungodly squawking when I sauntered around to the motor homes.
I ignored it as we adults often do when we get our minds buried in the mundane day-to-day gobbledy-snoodle we train our gray matter to which it should pay its attention.
But the squawking became really very un-ignorable after a week or so.
I know this because I tried. I really did.
One morning, when I was much more mentally alert and peppy than usual, I stopped and looked for the source of this screed of insanity. And there was the culprit. The psycho bird was standing on the other side of the chain-link fence cawing and squawking to beat hell. It was pretty put off by the fact that I was standing there.
I moved on.
“Freak,” I remember stating aloud–as I’ve been known to do. (I’m from the school of ‘who better to talk to than yourself?’ At least your listener agrees most of the time that way.)
Later, though, it was my duty to show one of the motor homes to a pair of gentlemen who came in to kick tires. I remember one of the guys being unusually tall and the other ridiculously short. It was such a noticeable size difference I remember the folks in the office telling a couple of wisenheimers about it later.
So, as Unusually Tall Guy, Ridiculously Short Guy and Average Medium Guy (me) approached the RV where I had been accosted earlier that morn, the bird began its unholy tirade once again.
“Wherever that damned bird is, someone needs to shoot it,” the taller gentleman said sarcastically, though obviously annoyed.
Though I hate to admit this now, I wholeheartedly agreed.
I told them the story about how I’d been hearing it day after day, but had just actually noticed the creature making the racket that morning. I didn’t actually think they were listening, but it piqued their interest. We investigated.
There about a foot-and-a-half behind the bird, in the landscaping on the other side of the chain divider–the one that separates the rest of the world from RV-Land–we discovered three eggs nestled in a makeshift rock nest under the minimal shade provided by the sparse landscaping. They were camouflaged enough that we didn’t notice them for a while, which didn’t please our little friend since we were standing far too close to her three little embryonic masterpieces.
Yes indeedy-doodles, we had angered Mama, but now that the source of the problem had been identified, I felt relieved. We finished the Tour de Asphalt Lot and moved inside to the comfort and goodness of air conditioning.
It wasn’t until the next day when I started my appointed rounds that I had a parental epiphany of sorts.
I breezed around to the motor homes again and, like every morning for several weeks, the bird began its angry beak-lashing of the geeky guy with the funky duds.
And it was at that very moment that it occurred to me: That bird, the freaking crazy one, and I…weren’t all that different. Natch, the bird and I were pretty much one in the same.
(Sure, it was a mama bird, I’m most definitely a papa human, but those might be the only differences at all.)
Since the very conception of my little one, I inherently took on the protector instinct, as do many parents. Yessir, that one kicked in from the very first moment I located that positive pregnancy test sitting atop the washing machine, and it’s only gotten stronger every day since. And seeing the miracle of life and the tragedy of loss several different times in the past few years has only heightened my appreciation for the preciousness of the time we have with our chicks (as in the child variety; not like the opposite of dude).
That, and I just turned 30, which I view as the ultimate mental foray out of the mistaken theory of the invincibility of youth and right on into the realization of the concept of mortality. Just you wait, whippersnappers, you’ll someday pick up what I’m throwin’ down.
But, that’s an entirely different post altogether. Back to the bird story.
The bird and I were two species with two of the same missions: parenthood and protection.
We won’t get into the egg concept or how I had always called my little one ‘Bird’ since day numero uno and actually dressed him in a bird costume for Halloween last year. And I won’t even mention the fact that I call my wife Lady Bird Vrb sometimes (I also call her June Carter at different times, but only after watching ‘Walk The Line’ and/or seeing the video for ‘Hurt’ where she stands behind Johnny at the piano, both of them frail and aged and ponderous and beautiful and provocative and wonderful). All of those things crossed my mind too. (I often imagine my brain–if ever opened up and spelunked–would be found to contain eight pounds of jelly beans, seven Fraggles and numerous PIN numbers.)
No, I couldn’t help but laugh about how that crazy bird and I had such a parallel universe.
Take away the feathers and put hair in places where it shouldn’t be, and I am that bird most of the time. I might appear crazy at times, but it’s only because I take my job as protector very seriously.
As does she.
I gained a new appreciation for the squawking that day and began to look quite forward to it since I could relate. (Pretty sure the bird never did, but birds aren’t typically saps who over analyze everything.)
A few weeks later, the squawking was gone. I walked over to the fence and, sure enough, there in the rocks were broken eggshells. They had hatched and mama was off teaching them to make their way in this crazy world, I imagined with beaming pride.
Yep, we parents have our work cut out for us, getting these babies ready to jump the nest and take flight. It’s a task many of us take very seriously, but at the same time enjoy immensely.
So forgive us, in advance, for those times when we squawk.
March 4, 2008 · 3:22 am