Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rage In A Cage

Once upon a time I was a single, working mommy.

I felt every emotion known to the human race after my divorce, including fear, anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness, worry, name it.

I also felt other things: happiness, relief, excitement, and an amazing feeling of total and complete love for my beautiful son, Nicholas.

When any one or more of these emotions were combined, some crazy things happened.

Anger + Insanity = New Home Construction
Fear + Loneliness = Some, lets say, poor choices in "dating."(that is ALL I'll say about THAT).

Combine guilt with my immense love for Nick and the desire to make him as happy as possible, and I went though a very intense phase when I spoiled him rotten.

We had ice-cream sundays for dinner, he had every "Toy Story" character, movie, bedroom accessory, that they cranked out. I gave into almost every request my beloved 3 year old made. With his curly blond hair and big blue eyes, he was impossible to refuse.

Little did I know, I was embarking on the part of my life that I would do the most learning about myself.

What I wanted, and what I DID NOT WANT.

What I liked and disliked.

That Nicks happiness and well-being came first.

That's why I agreed to KEEP THE BIRD.

At the time I worked for Portland Radio Group. I am so fortunate to have worked there~ Not only did I love working in radio, but the people that I worked with were like family. They were there for me through the rough times, and the good times, through the building of my house, and more. They were my rock when I needed them to be, and they loved Nick, too.(love you guys)!

One day, a dear friend asked if I would "pet sit" for her parakeet.

Sure! I thought, that would thrill Nick, and how bad could a cute little birdie be?

uh huh.

The bird arrived in his cage and we placed it in the sunny, newly painted den. I thought it was a cute addition, and for a nano-second, considered purchasing one of our own.


As soon as my friend left(for a week) that bird made known his feelings.

Or, feeling: HATRED.

I could almost see it in his beady little eyes. The disdain he felt for being abandoned. The irritated, squealing shriek that only an angry bird(or drowning turkey)can make.

I tried soothing it. I tried singing. I put some seeds in his cage.(Carefully, I had no idea how scared I would be of it). And he knew it.

Nick thought it was fantastic.
And so I decided to make the best of it.

That bird hated me all.night.long. With his terrifying squawking, he made noise through the night, until I could no longer take it.

I went downstairs at the crack of dawn, bleary-eyed from sleep deprivation, and found that he had shredded the newspaper liner into zillions of pieces and scattered the seeds and feathers all over the floor.

This was not going well.

He had seemed to calm down at that point. I mean, what else could he destroy?

I knew that I would have to somehow replace the liner, and water dripper thingy, that he had seemingly mistaken for a birdie toilet. Oh, God.

I gently opened the door to the cage, and he CAME FLYING OUT so fast I almost fell over myself, running away from it, tripping over myself, the kitchen table, knocking over the lamp, screaming the whole time.

( can hear me using those naughty words...)

He sort of sputtered up to the top of my kitchen cabinets. I thought they had some sort of procedure so that they couldn't fly! Guess I was wrong...

Nick slept peacefully through the chaos to this point. When I heard him coming downstairs, I screamed at him to "STAY AWAY!" Who knew what this demonic creature was capable of?

Nick, to me, is like Forrest Gump. And I mean that in the most loving way. He has a brilliant mind, is really good at everything without really trying, and barely ever gets ruffled at his mothers antics. Bless his heart.

He just sat on the bottom step and watched the debacle unfold.

How was I going to get him back into his cage?

He answered that for me. By SWOOPING down at break neck speed and landing on my shoulder!

I was like a terrified pirate as I did my best not to pee my pants and scream bloody murder. I put my hand near him and felt his creepy little bird toes wrap around my finger. Oh.jeez!

I placed him "gingerly" inside the cage and slammed and locked that tiny gate. I felt like I had captured a wanted criminal and thrown him into a cell!

I still hadn't changed the liner, or the water, or the seed casings.

The cute, freshly painted room looked like a bird-war had taken place.

What was I going to do? I was going to push on. That's what.

Over the week, night after night, morning after morning, the same episode played out.

I learned to let him out so that I could disinfect his cage, re-paper and feed him.
I learned not to scream every time he dive-bombed me from the kitchen.
I learned that I did not like birds.

And guess what? Nick asked if we could keep the little nuisance!
And guess what? With heavy hesitation, dark circles from lack of sleep, seeds in my hair, I said YES.

I didn't tell him this, but my friend had offered to let us keep him, as she was going to be traveling more, and that it would actually be a favor to her.

This is one of those, "hind site is always twenty-twenty" moments.

As the days went on, my dislike for the bird, now un-affectionately named "Parry," grew. Nick said he loved him, but wasn't old enough to clean the twice-daily mess, or rescue him from his frequent escape missions to the top of the cabinets.

Now the house smelled of bird. Others that visited said they couldn't smell it, but I could. The vacuum cleaner went on strike from over-use. And that bird despised me, as much as I tried to make nice.

After weeks of sleepless nights and bird-poop cleaning, I had had enough. And Nick had lost interest, too.

On the day of his last escape, I tried reasoning with it.

"You know, I am the ONLY one who takes care you. I clean up after you. I feed you. I rescue you. What do you want from me?!?!?!"

He tweeted some nasty response, And I was done.

Now, before I continue, I want you to know that I would NEVER hurt an animal, and any story that I tell has a (relatively) happy ending.

I glanced quickly out the window and saw that the predicted rain was holding off, and if that @@#$%%$# bird really hated being in my home that much, well then, he was free to go.

I opened the door.

He flew out.

Good Riddance. Ungrateful, noisy, disgusting, smelly, sputtering, angry little jerk!

I looked out the window. He really couldn't "fly," per say. Just momentary bouts of "air" then down.

I watched him, he was blue, by the way, hop-fly-hop across my little back yard.

I wished him the best, and enjoyed the quiet that I hadn't experienced in the weeks that he lived here.

Then Nick came down from his nap.
In his under-roo underwear and his bed-head mop-top, he looked up asked, "Where's Parry?"


"Nick, Parry needed some fresh air." It had started to rain.

"Mama. You need to go gettim." He said matter-of-factly.

I knew he was probably right.


Where was he? He could NOT have gone too far, but I could not see him.

I went outside, in the rain, and heard that familiar, nasty tweet. He was under the deck.


I scooched down and tried to coax him out. "C'mon, birdie. I'm sorry."
He was not coming.

After a few minutes, he made a bee-line for me. As fast as I had ever seen him, he raced for the edge of the yard. I tried unsuccessfully to catch him, but he clearly had had enough of me, too. He wanted outta there. It was like my first marriage, minus the dive-bombing.

I realized that even if I did catch him, I wasn't going to be able to get him back to the house without a fight.

I ran back in, grabbed my flip-flops and the bird cage, and ran back out to trap it.

He had made it into the "woods." The land was under development, so it consisted of stumps, razor sharp, thorny, bushes, rocks and mud. It was raining even harder as I Macgivered my way behind the bird, the bain of my existence, as Nick yelled encouragement from the deck, in only his underwear. Now it was pouring rain. I had lost a flip-flop, was scratched by the pucka-brush, and had surely traipsed through poison ivy. What a scene. He would fly. Stop. Fly. Stop. I was never going to get him! And if I did, I had visions of turning on my oven and...Oh, stop. I would NEVER!

After nearly an hour of "cat and mouse" I got him to hop on a stick and I finally was able to get him into the cage.
I have never cussed so much in my life.

I walked, triumphantly, exhausted, bloodied, soaked, back to the house.

By then, Nick had again moved on, and I was left with just rage in a cage.

I called my friend Kurt, who is a wonderfully staunch animal lover, who knew the plight of Parry, and had said that he would happily take him from me, as soon as was warranted. It was warranted now.

It was like my first marriage. You really want it to work. You put yourself through hell as long as you can stand it. You try to change your feelings, but, in the end, it really is best for everyone if you just agree to split.

Here's what I learned:

I'll do anything to make my son happy.

I am obsessed with a clean smelling, vacuumed house.

I don't like camping. Wait, that's another story.

And I don't like birds. It is what it is.

P.S. Parry went on to live happily with Kurt and his other birds. I suffered a hellacious case of poison ivy. Karma, I'm sure.


Thanks for reading.

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