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Bird brains and the mommy car speech | Jan's Journal

June 10, 2009

A pair of cute brown and black barn swallows has swooped in to build a nest in the brick arch above our front door.

I understand now what it means to call someone a bird brain — it’s not a compliment. This young and foolish couple has the audacity to come around again after their disastrous nesting fiasco of two years ago. They constructed their baby bed, beak full by beak full of Dumas Bay mud. It’s quite fascinating to observe how hard they work as a team, side by side for days. Too bad they’re lousy parents. I could not let them continue to build again in good conscience. They abandoned five pretty white and brown mottled eggs — then left them to rot. Had they forgotten their major faux pas so easily? What kind of parent does that?

When they dive bombed me as I exited my house, I waved my arms and scolded them out loud, “No way are you two going to come back to my house and leave your baby birds to rot in their egg shells again!” Their chattering response was to shamelessly flaunt their flying abilities by hovering around my head like they owned the place. Indignant, I grabbed a very tall duster pole and scraped off the muddy twiggy goo while muttering, “Not on my watch, birdies!” I believe that not everyone is supposed to be a parent. I can’t do anything about irresponsible humans; however, I can prevent a pair of bird brains from making another bad choice.

This morning I drove to school with a bit of melancholy. (Not stemming from the demise of a bird’s badly located nesting site.) This was the last time I would drive my son to St. Vincent’s because he graduates from eighth grade this week. Next fall, he’s high school bound and his sister gets the chauffeuring privileges. I pointedly asked him what his favorite mommy car speech was throughout the years. Eagerly I waited, wondering if he’d say the one about brushing teeth, or wearing deodorant. He quickly said the one where I do the least talking! Silly boy, I tell him. I want to hear his favorite reality speech, not flight of the imagination. I fiddled with his uniform shirt collar just to bug him, and counted the seconds until he batted my hand away. Only one second — he sure is growing up!

I try to remember the last times I do things with my kids, not just the firsts. For some reason, they’re more telling of the passage of time to me. One day you’re tying their shoe, and the next they’re independent. Transitioning from junior high to high school is just so bittersweet for me — little boy to young man.

Overnight, it seems that my babies have matured to the point that a semi-empty nest is on the distant horizon. It’s the natural progression of life for our children to bump along the road to adulthood. How much they take with them from their formative years is yet to be seen. Hopefully, peer pressure is tamped down with a solid foundation of common sense. Mistakenly, I thought as my kids got older, motherhood would get easier. The truth is that they experience new things every day, and we need to stay tuned in.

Just because they’re older and supposedly self-sufficient doesn’t mean the parent should relax and fly away like a bird. If anything, it’s more critical than ever to be there for our young adults, ready to listen, not lecture. It’s a good parent’s job to care and nurture, even after they’ve left the so-called nest.

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