Poor parenting

I do what I can to help out at church.  We have a small congregation and lots of things need to be done.  I’m a practical person, and I like to do behind-the-scenes stuff, so one of the tasks I volunteered for was to be responsible for the sign.  We have one of those ugly, portable signs with the six-inch high letters that (in theory) slide in plastic tracks.  It’s supposed to light up at night, too, but the bulbs are burned out, and there’s not power to it.  Our pastor hates that sign, and she was so glad to not have to mess with it any more that she gave me full liberty to do with it as I saw fit.  I think she was secretly hoping I’d haul it to the dump, but it’s too big for Reno’s trunk.

I saw fit to take all the letters out of the file drawer they had been shoved in many moons ago and organize them in hanging files by letter in crates in our cellar.  That’s a lot easier than having to arrange to get to the church when someone is there so I can get in the office and dig through letters.  At home, I decide what I want the sign to say, pull the letters in order, take them up to the church, and change the sign.  About every two weeks.  Or whenever I get around to it.  (My Aunt Mil gave me a round tuit when I was a kid.  She’s quite a character.  She was also 42 for a heckuva long time, so I’m now ten years older than my mom’s oldest sister, but I digress.)

There are, of course, two sides to the sign.  We come from the east and then turn into the driveway just west of the sign, but our pastor always comes from the west, so she only sees one side of the sign.  I decided that having the same thing on both sides of the sign was boring, because lots of people drive that stretch of F Highway to and from work, and they shouldn’t have to see the same thing both ways.

Both sides have the service times at the bottom, and on the west side, I usually put something having to do with whatever the sermon theme is, or if I don’t have that information, something generic about what God is doing, or inviting folks to come to join us, or whatever.

However, the east side of the sign is my private domain!  I have taken to putting a challenge question on that side.  Since Pastor Barb never sees them, I really can make that side of the sign say whatever I want.  = )  I’ve done things like, “When did I last call my mom?” and, “Who could I encourage today?” and, “Who does God want me to forgive?”  Right now, it says, “How can I honor my dad?”

Anyway, I went up there in the blazing heat this afternoon (it’s been spring for four and-a-half months, and yesterday the temp suddenly shot to ninety, so now it’s summer) to change the sign.  When I got there, I saw a baby bird on the ground beneath the sign.  It seems that his parents had built a nest in one of the light bulb openings.  He was on the ground in the 90+ degree heat, with his little yellow mouth wide open.  I’m sure the guy was hungry and thirsty.  His brother was up in the nest, also mouth agape – and that’s not a Greek word for love!

I started my ritual of prying out lots of the old letters, while trying to leave ones that could still be useful in the new words.  Since the plastic tracks are old and cruddy, getting the letters out and in is varying degrees of a royal pain.  Since I was in a hurry and sweating profusely, I was kind of jerking the whole sign board.  The birdie parents (mother, father, and a third adult, who I assume was an aunt or nosy neighbor) were very high and lifted up on a power line, and when I started jostling the sign, those three went ballistic.  They squawked and chortled and made all kind of noise at the two youngsters.  Eventually, the guy in the nest plopped to the ground, but by then, his brother had stumbled some ten feet away in the grass.  The nearer brother opened his mouth wide and looked longingly at me, but alas, I had neither worm nor water with which to satisfy him.

I went on fighting the sign to get the letters up, and suddenly Andrew (who was waiting in the car) hollered, “Look at that , Mom!  That little bird!  He’s in the road!”  Sure enough, one of the brothers had figured out how to fly across the road, but the other fellow was sitting in the middle of the near lane.  This was trouble, for sure.

Our church is right on the crest of a small hill (which neatly makes it virtually impossible to pull out of there), and cars come whizzing over the hill from both directions.  None of those drivers would be able to stop fora baby bird.  With a stack of letters in one hand, I walked toward the road, looked both ways, and was about to dart out and scoop the little guy up while the older generation set up a terrific racket on the power line.  I thought, “What on earth kind of parenting is this?!?  Instead of DOING something to help the little birdie, you just sit up there and holler at him.  How does THAT help a guy learn to fly?!?”

Just then, a car came whizzing up the hill from the east in the near lane, the lane in which our little open-mouthed friend was sitting.  If I ran out, I’d get hit.  If I didn’t, he’d get hit.  I stood in the grass, grimacing and awaiting the inevitable.  I guess the little guy’s adrenaline kicked it, though, and he scooted toward the double yellow, avoiding impact by inches.  Then, while his elders either scolded his weakness or cheered his bravado (I wasn’t sure which), he fluttered and ran on across the road, joining his brother in tall grass less than a foot from the pavement.

Andrew and I breathed deep sighs of relief, and the chattering busybodies upstairs flew to a different section of power line, positioning themselves directly over the youngsters, while never letting anyone get a word in edgewise.

What were those little birds thinking at that point?

What were those elders saying to each other?

Why did they think that talk would suddenly make their offsprings’ wings work better?

Why do I think talking will motivate my young men to do difficult or scary things?

And finally, where will the baby birdies sleep tonight?



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