By Kim Evans for the Herald-Times
Parenting for the past 12 years has proved to be an ongoing lesson in improvisation. Take Monday evening for example. Much to my daughter’s chagrin, I found myself pushing her to spend time on a school research project. With the project due in two weeks, I was trying to impart the wisdom of spreading out the work rather than waiting until the weekend before to cram it through, which is always painful.
We’re in the thick of our battle of wills when she decides to step out on the back porch. A moment later I hear, “Mom, there’s a hurt bird out here!”
My eyes immediately find the guilty-looking cat across the room.
I had left the porch door open. My husband had been laying a concrete stoop outside the back door all weekend, and the door had been off limits while the concrete set firmly enough to step on. This was the first evening our pets were enjoying the rediscovery of their passageway to the Great Outdoors — a little too much. Bird feathers were scattered over the new concrete.
So the homework was put on the back burner in an attempt to help the bird. A shoebox was found, air holes cut in the lid, and cushy socks were stuffed inside to form a bed. The bird, a beautiful medium-sized robin, had an injured wing, and there was blood on its tail feathers, which corresponded to the blood on the cat’s chest.
It seems like we have to relearn this lesson all over again each spring. Don’t let the cat outside. I forget over and over again that our sweet cuddly kitty named Morgan is an expert huntress.
My daughter placed the robin in the shoebox and found a safe haven in the garage. We decided if it survived the night, we would deliver it to WildCare in the morning.
She worried about the bird, checking on it frequently. I was touched and a little surprised that she hasn’t yet outgrown her tender heart toward animals, a tenderness that she has acted upon many times over the years, from raising tadpoles to rescuing worms from the sidewalk to persuading us to adopt the very cat who captured this bird. It was clear to me that she wasn’t using this as an excuse to avoid her homework, so I decided to stop worrying about the class project and rode out Mother Nature’s lesson with her instead.
We kept rethinking what would be best for the bird. We talked about the pros and cons of releasing it back to nature versus keeping it safe in the shoebox. She checked on it again. This time when she lifted the lid, the bird was able to jump out of the shoebox, but it wasn’t able to fly. This confirmed our decision to keep the bird in the box overnight.
We took a break to walk our dog, and when we returned, the bird had died. I found a flashlight and accompanied my daughter to the garden shed to find a shovel. She wanted to bury the robin — whom she named Fawkes — under a tree in our back yard.
As she gently placed Fawkes in the grave and said her good-byes, I made note of how her actions on behalf of the bird were so much more effortless than the research project. Life’s best lessons don’t always come from books.
And I hereby resolve to keep my cat indoors for the remainder of the season. You hear that, Miss Morgan?