At some point on Monday, I discovered a baby bird in our tiny front yard. It was toppling around under the ash tree calling, “momma momma momma momma” or “squawk squawk squawk squawk” to those with untrained ears. I held this little bit of information to myself for a while. For we have tender hearts in this family, and I didn’t want to see anyone crushed by loving this tiny fledgling and then see it not survive.
The little guy seemed to get stronger as the day went on, and so I shared my secret with my husband and our oldest. At 13, she still wanted to rescue it but I reassured her he was doing fine.
By day two he was doing well, even toddling all around our postage stamp-sized yard Later that day, he was brave enough to be in our driveway. All three of the children knew about him now. We’d done some research and were confident that he was a fledgling, had probably jumped out of the nest and would be flying in a matter of days. Now, if we could just help keep him safe.
Before we left for the library, I had to chase it back to the tree. Before my husband pulled into the drive, the oldest had to scoot him back into the grass. Around dinner time, my husband shooed him out of the street. Because of all of this chasing, we were getting a bit of a sinking feeling, and the younger two kids were getting more and more attached.
The momma bird didn’t seem to mind if she fed him by the tree, by our house, or in the middle of the street. She did keep feeding him, but she didn’t corral him. We did.
Suffice to say, the story does not end well. At some point I will probably tell the younger two about the cars, and the little guy in the middle of the street. I’ll tell how daddy took care of it , but leave off the part about the neighbors tittering at him from their porch. And maybe one day the oldest will forgive us for not scooting him on across the road, but she’s not ready to yet. We failed in her eyes, and she is ticked that we didn’t tell the younger ones.
As parents we must trust our children, recognize and understand, that some kids are ready for the truth sooner than others. There is a need to know each child individually. Be curious about their thoughts, passions, imaginations, emotions, desires. We can’t just leave them out in the middle of the road for someone else to direct toward the good or the bad.
This morning I opened my shutters to see momma bird was on our sidewalk, worm in beak…. searching. Lucy stood next to me and very solemnly said, “I don’t think he made it momma.” “I don’t think so either, darling.” There was a big deep sigh, and we moved on with the day. Her timing was just right.