Two days ago while Noah and I were having yet another deep conversation at lunch he asked out of the blue if he could get a parakeet. Before he could even pronounce the final hard consonant sound of the three syllable word I blurted out a very firm, “Nooooooo!”
Of course the inevitable question followed, “Why?”
“Bad memories,” I joked.
“You seriously have bad memories about a bird?”
“Not just any bird,” I playfully shuddered. “But Ernie the Bird.”
Of course with that comment I opened the bird cage door to a flood of memories of a particular bird named Ernie who was my housemate (along with about 40 other sorority sisters) at Oregon State University. And as I told the stories of Ernie the Bird, pooping on homework and mating with his own image in a mirror and engaging in low fly-bys that skimmed our scalps as he lived among a sisterhood of women in our charming white house on the corner of 23rd and Van Buren, the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop and Purple Rain looped through my brain.
I did a pretty good job of convincing Noah a bird was not the pet for our family so imagine my surprise when not but four hours later Zak came running in the house with an orange Nike Zoom Field General size 9 shoebox calling out, “Look what we just found!” I flashed back to an earlier conversation I had had with Noah. One where while I was at my computer working he had quietly tried to sneak by with a Rotel diced tomatoes and green chili can in his hand.
I asked, “Why are you carrying around a Rotel tomato can in your hand.”
He said, “I don’t know.”
I asked again, “Noah, why are you carrying a Rotel tomato can in your hand?”
He said, “Because.”
I said, “Noah…”
He said, “Okay, there’s a snake in it.”
I said, “There is NOT a snake in that can.”
He said, “Want to see?”
I said, “Yeah, I want to see.”
He lifted the lid of the can and, sure enough, inside the Rotel diced tomatoes and green chili can there was a baby snake.
I said, “Wow, there is a snake inside that can.”
He said, “I told you so.”
So as Zak stood there, an orange shoebox in his hands and a very excited smile on his face I rolled my eyes and said as I lifted the lid, “Let me guess. A snake.” But guess what? It wasn’t a snake. Nope. Staring back at me, inside that orange shoe box was Ernie the Bird reincarnate. Once again, The Heat is On began looping in my subconscious as Prince rode across my mind’s eye on a bad ass motorcycle into a cloud of artificial fog. I slammed the box lid shut and looked at Zak in shock.
“Where did THAT come from?” I said in complete disbelief.
Oh sure, there may have been a “cute” parakeet inside that box but all I saw was a crow wanting to peck my eyes out.
Zak explained they had been walking toward the cul-de-sac and almost stepped on the bird in the grass. By this time Sam and Noah had shown up and were asking, no begging those words most parents really don’t want to hear in their lifetime, unless the subject is D.B. Coopers hijacked money, “Can we keep it!? Can we keep it?”
“Damn,” I thought. “It couldn’t have been a kitten. Or a bunny. Or even a snake. It had to be a parakeet.” A PARAKEET! I’m just glad Noah didn’t ask for a bear cub or alligator during our lunch time conversation. God only knows what would have appeared on our lawn. I still think its a little freaky he even mentioned wanting a parakeet and then four hours later one lands on our property. Really?
Why does this happen to me?
I don’t often use the term begrudgingly when I describe my parenting, but on this occasion I begrudgingly allowed the boys to make a makeshift bird sanctuary out of a cat carrier until we figured out what to do with the bird.
Good fortune shined upon me as one of Nick’s classmates offered to take the bird. Bad fortune clouded over me as the same classmate called up and said his mom freaked out when he brought a bird home. Wise mom.
So. Here I sit as the rest of the clan is at the fireworks stand buying this year’s July 4th explosives and I wait for Nick’s classmate to return the bird. In our quest to find its owner I spoke with several neighbors and one graciously offered to pull a bird cage out of her attic for us if we needed it.
Today, I needed it because I realized there’s got to be at least one time in my parenting life when my kids beg, “Can we keep it, can we keep it.” that I have to say yes.
But he’s not going to fly around our house and poop on homework. And he’s never ever ever ever going to see his reflection in the mirror. And the boys also agreed that I have 100% naming rights.
So, his name you ask? Hitchcock. Because his arrival into my world was very similar to the classic film The Birds. Shocking, freaky and pretty much horrifying. Well, not really, but when it comes to the subject of pet birds I tend to over exaggerate and become dramatic.
I like to call it…the Ernie Effect.