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May 25, 2013

How To Succeed In Parenting Without Even Trying

Common_grackle_yard_20070516_01So we found this injured bird in the backyard. A grackle. I found it. The poor thing was flopping around on its back and trying to turn upright without success. I got some gloves on and tried setting it upright. It hitched and bobbed and wobbled and flipped back over again. 

"Maybe it's shitfaced?" I thought.  I smelled it's breath. No such luck. I didn't know what to do with it. I certainly couldn't have the kids finding it.  It's been a real pet meat grinder around here the last couple of years. Kitty Auschwitz. The cat edition of the Trail of Tears. The Bataan Death Meow. I am not ready to go through that level of angst again. Not yet. My first thought was that I had to get rid of it somehow. But how? Leave it to the elements including feral cats and my weed whacker? Grim, chunk of brick sanctioned execution? Fire it from a t-shirt gun and hope the momentum got it flying again?  I figured doing away with it as humanly as possible was my best option. So I scooped it up and placed it in a shallow box with an overturned plastic flower pot on top of it, put the whole thing on the pic-nic table, and went inside. 

Here's my thinking: The flower pot has air holes, my wife's family has an extensive and kooky history of (attempted) nursing injured wild animals back to health, and I really wasn't ready to deal. I figured I'd share with her my ideas for injured bird removal (catapult, ufo abduction, yard sale) and see what she had to say. She had to say, "I don't know. Leave it for a cat? Call animal control?" 

The second thing was a decent idea so I immediately did not do it. Part of me was hoping that if we just gave it a little time it would rest up enough to stop being such an inconsiderate dick and be ready to fly before my kids found it. 

I went out the next morning to check and my improvised cage was empty. It was gone. Boom. Problem solved, parenting expertise still unimpeachable. 

 Later that day, the kids and I returned from picking the Peanut up after school and I let them play in the yard while I got busy inside checking twitter and wondering if we could afford take-out. Just as I was about to click on a terrific link for waffles that look like Justin Beiber, I heard someone pounding on the screen door. There the Peanut stood, wailing and tear-stained. "Daddy," she sobbed, "Daddy, we found a bird in the yard in and it's injured daddy, it's injured!" The little fucker had escaped from my makeshift intensive care unit only to commence flopping around our yard all hurt and conspicuous like. Shit. 

I calmly murmered, "Ok sweetheart. Alright. It's alright."  

"What're we gonna do?" She cried.

"Hold on," I said.

I went and got my gloves. I knew that this time, I had to do something. Something decisive. Something real. I scooped up the bird, put it back in the box and put the flower pot back on top of it. However this time, I put two rocks on top of the flower pot and left it on the low cement and and old railroad tie wall that sits at the back border of our yard. There. That oughtta do it. 

"We'll put it here so we can let it rest and then tomorrow we'll check it and maybe then it'll feel better and be ready to fly."

They bought it, the suckers. So I let it be. I told my wife what happened and she said, " I told you to call animal control. Why didn't you do that?" Damn her. 

I didn't mention it to them this morning and they had the good manners to do the same. In fact, no one mentioned it at all until it was time to go pick-up the Peanut. Then the Pumpkin Man asked if we could check on it. I said we could when we got back. Stall, stall, stall. Parenting basics.

We got back and I took a look at the prison and it was askew. The little shit had escaped again. I said,with all the false brightness I could muster, "Look guys, the pot is turned over, it looks like it flew away!" There was much rejoicing and pride in our ability to heal. Meanwhile, a little later I saw the goddamn thing hopping drunkenly around our yard again. I said nothing. I'm a bad daddy.  

While dinner simmered, I went out to stock up on booze for the weekend. A mission of mercy for myself. There it was, the Telltale Grackle. In my yard, mocking me. I left the yard and got in the car. I came home, scrunched up my face, opened the gate, and the little motherfucker took off. It flew away! I win. At least, I think it flew away. Not to be racist but, all grackles look the same to me. I scanned the yard nervously though and I'm pretty sure it was IT. 

So there's your parenting message for the weekend everyone. Stall, stall, stall and when that doesn't work, stall some more and then deny. Birds will take wing. 




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