By Sue Murphy
During a rare quiet moment, I heard a knocking sound. It wasn’t solid or rhythmic, just insistent. I checked the icemaker, the usual culprit for these things, but it was whirring along nicely. In a moment of panic, I checked for a roof leak from the morning rain, but no. So, I stood stock still, and each time I heard the sound, I moved in that direction, until I came to the living room window, where a robin was repeatedly flying at the glass.
I couldn’t tell if he was trying to get inside or was going after a bird he thought he saw in the reflection, so I closed the shades to see if that helped. The bird continued. I rapped on the glass from my side. The bird stopped for a moment, then went right back to work. I checked to see if the birdfeeders were empty. Occasionally, the cardinals will send a representative to the windowsill to remind me, but there were sunflower seeds o-plenty, and besides, I knew robins ate worms. What was this bird think- ing?
“Stop that!” I said loudly through the safely closed window.
“Seriously!” I yelled a few minutes later. “You’re going to break your beak!”
I’d had practice with such speeches. “Don’t run with a stick/ touch the stove/ jump off the back of the couch! You’ll get hurt!” As a mom, it was my job to divert my children when they ventured in the wrong direction. As a kindergarten teacher, my job was the same, just on a M-F, 8 to 3 basis. I gave the bird my best mom look, I used my stern teacher voice, but he just wouldn’t listen.
It’s hard when someone in your life is knocking his head against the glass, isn’t it? What they think they see isn’t what’s really there. They choose a less-than-loving path, they trust a less-than-trustworthy person, they take normal growing-up rebellion to a beak-breaking extreme. You can see where they’re headed but they can’t, or worse, they do but appear not to care. You counsel and cajole, you plead and you prod, but they ignore you. They fly into the glass, and fly into the glass, and keep flying into the glass, and it simply breaks your heart.
“This isn’t the right path for you,” you continue, even when they can’t or won’t hear you. “Change course, my darling. Please change course. You can always, always change course.” You’ve seen them make changes before, so you hold out hope.
I was so hoping for good things for the robin, but as soon as the sun came up, he was back pecking at my window. This couldn’t continue. Summoning my best tough love move, I ran out onto the deck and shooed the bird away. In the quiet that followed, I felt better, thinking the robin had figured things out, but later, I saw him pecking on the brass kick plate of the door across the street. Same baggage, different location. What would become of him?
In the end, of course, it was the bird’s life, and, because I am a few credits short of a degree in bird psychology, all I could do was let him go … or not. By that afternoon, the robin was back on my deck and I decided to let him stay. I couldn’t help him, but at least he would be somewhere where someone would care enough to continue to plead and prod and hope.
Change course, little guy. You can always, always change course. ❖