For the birds

The cardinals are back, with their nest of babies with gaping mouths outside of our dining room window. They come most springs, but now that my boys are huge teenagers, I don't look for them so much. I used to identify with the mother, dropping food into her babies' mouths, scolding us when we got too close, and settling on top of her birds in her nest. Didn't the babies' beaks peck her belly? Or is her warm body their signal to settle down? Must look in the encyclopedia...whoops, I mean Google.

But today was also screen day at our house, and the mother got furious when Chris tossed a screen onto the hedge from the upstairs window. I sat in a chair in the dining room looking out the window till I spotted the nest. Clever mama bird; instead of flying in from above and risking my observation of her, she hopped to the nest from below ... kind of like a mother lurking in the next aisle at CVS when her children stop to talk with friends and she hangs back to not embarrass them but maybe hear them say something to give a clue about the teenage psyche.

I'd like to sit like that mama bird on one of my sons; keep him close and keep him quiet. How can one person have so much to say? How can I disagree with so much of it? How can I possibly keep picking my battles and only saying \stop when it's really important? Raising teens feels like a constant test. I was a good test-taker in school, but this is one test that requires more than a good guess before coloring in the appropriate circle.

In another week, the baby birds will be gone. Not so fast for my children; perhaps in the few years left, I'll figure out when to keep my mouth shut and when to speak up as they learn to spread their own wings. ""

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