You know that story “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman? It is a page turner.
In case you haven’t read it, I can give you a quick synopsis right now. It is basically about this baby bird who falls from his tree top nest onto the ground and embarks on a fast-paced journey filled with suspense, mystery and betrayal…or not.
Actually, it is about a baby bird who falls out of his nest while his mother goes in search of food. He gets confused after the fall and starts walking around asking a menagerie of characters (i.e. dog, kitten, cow) the question from the books’ title “are you my mother?” Character after character he is told “no, I am not your mother” until the plot thickens and the bird encounters a “scary snort” which turns out is an excavator. Trust me, it is an excavator not a bulldozer. My son and I debated this fact for several months before I finally gave in and told him he was right. He was right from the get go, but I coulda sworn!
Any who, the story ends with the “scary snort” lifting the tiny bird into its basket and placing him gently back into his nest way up high in the tree from whence he fell. Sorry, I just gave up the ending. But here is what I discovered after reading this story a hundred times to my son and now to my daughter. The scary snort is not just doing some civic duty. It is not just being altruistic and trying to help a baby bird out. The snort is actually anxious to get the bird back into its nest because the mother of the baby bird has gone on a recon mission to retrieve her baby and has pecked the bejangles out of the snort operator who is obviously messing with her offspring.
Now, I too would have missed that detail and be none the wiser had it not been for a recent encounter with a mother bird and a fallen nest. Last week, I took my son to a doctor’s appointment. My daughter grew bored with the waiting room so I decided to take her on a quick walk across the parking lot. Whenever I do this, I usually try to point out things that might distract her and allow our walk to last more than five seconds…because sometimes I feel like I can walk a hundred miles pointing out all manner of things and it ends up being about thirty-five seconds and I am exhausted and my daughter is still bored. So here I am pointing things out and I come across a bird’s nest that has fallen from a very tall palm tree.
I think I see movement in the nest so I decide to take a closer look. There is movement! I take my foot and gently move the nest a millimeter and within nanoseconds, nanoseconds, three birds come out of nowhere and start pecking my head, my sunglasses, my shoulders, my clothes! I am flinging my arms wildly trying to shoo them away but they are relentless! I have already fled the scene of the nest, but these stinkin’ birds do not relent! My daughter is very excited and begins almost chanting “Mommy! Birds! Your Hair!” And for the life of me I cannot figure out why I am still walking! Why am I not running!?
Thankfully those birds spared my daughter and left her un-pecked although she was certainly entertained. And pardon the Hitchcock reference, but for reals that’s exactly what it felt like. I was helpless I tell ya! Helpless! Next time you read “Are You My Mother?” to your children remember that the sweet ending with the scary snort rescuing the bird is really only a response to being pecked incessantly until that Mama bird’s baby is safely returned to his nest. The end.
Oh, and happy Mama’s day!!