I was on the phone last week, pacing the driveway. It was a beautiful day and the kids were all napping or resting. I just needed some air. As I spoke with my friend, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned in time to see Sloan marching by with a twelve foot ladder tucked snuggly under his arm. He didn’t even glance my way as he walked past, his face cool and nonchalant. As if carrying around a ladder was normal.
I swear, if that kid had a stuffed tiger I would be living with Calvin and Hobbes.
“Um…I think I should probably hang up,” I said to my friend as Sloan set the ladder down next to the corner of the house and popped it open. He looked up at the roof, his hand shading his eyes slightly. I managed to reach him just as he stepped on the third rung, the ladder wobbling precariously on the slanted driveway.
“Whatcha doin’?” I asked, grabbing hold of the base of the ladder.
“Oh, hey Mom,” Sloan said, still playing cool. “I’m checking out the bird’s nest up here.”
I looked up and sure enough, there was a nest just underneath the roof.
“Can I?” he asked, looking down at me with his penetrating blue eyes. Then he grinned. Stinker.
“Yes,” I replied. “Be careful.”
So up he climbed to the top rung and he peered over the side of the nest.
“There’s a baby bird in there!” he screeched. Seriously screeched. My ears are still ringing. “It’s so cute! Aw, Mom come see the baby bird!”
So we switched places and I climbed the ladder with him holding it steady. Inside the nest was a tiny, newly hatched baby, it’s beak pointed upward, waiting for nourishment.
“Can I see it again?” Sloan yelled, shaking the ladder for effect. Nice.
He climbed back up and looked in again. “This is so freakin’ cool!” he yelled again. To which I reminded him that I was only a few feet below and he didn’t need to scream. Then he reached for the bird.
“Don’t touch it,” I cautioned. “If the Mama bird comes back and smells you on her baby, she’ll leave him and he’ll die.”
With one last look and a wave, we pulled the ladder back down and headed on with our day.
Fast forward to this afternoon when we’re driving home from church. Sloan pipes up from the backseat. “Hey Mom. I don’t care if it dies, so when we get home can I get the ladder out and pick up the baby bird and keep it? I’ll get it worms and I’ll take care of it. Can I raise the baby bird?”
“No,” I said. “It’s Mama would be sad. And we really don’t know how to raise a baby bird. It’s better if we leave it alone.”
“But I can take good care of it,” came the anticipated protest.
“Hey Buddy,” Lee said, glancing into the mirror. “You don’t need to try and raise that baby bird.”
“Well,” Lee said, and he paused. “It would be like a bear coming to our house and seeing you and saying ‘I want to take that little boy home and raise him.’ Bears don’t know how to raise little boys. That bear wouldn’t know how to feed you – he’d probably just give you raw meat or raw fish, like he eats. And if he tried to hug you or give you a kiss, he’d probably claw you to death or bite off your nose with his sharp teeth. Bear’s aren’t meant to take care of little boys just like little boys aren’t meant to take care of baby birds.”
This is the part where I begin clutching my sides, I’m laughing so hard.
“And bee’s should take care of bee’s, wight?” Tia chimes in.
“Right,” Lee replies. “Bears take care of bears, bee’s take care of bee’s, bird’s take care of bird’s–”
“And people take care of people!” Sloan interrupts.
“That’s right!” Lee pumps his fist in the air. “Homosapiens take care of Homosapiens.”
And THAT, folks, is what happens when Daddy decides to explain.