About a week ago, we caved. Nelson had been begging for a parakeet for over a year. Then came the fateful night at a new (former) friend’s house when the kids ran off to play.
It was a new home for them, for all of us. I let my guard down and didn’t ask the right questions. I assumed all was well. The dad was a cop after all. He was the dude I would call if things went wrong.
Turns out in 4 hours, everything changed. When I wasn’t looking, it happened. They had a parakeet. And I never saw it coming.
It was daybreak the next day before Nelson said it was so: “Grace has a bird.” Come Friday, a mere 7 days after that fateful visit, we had Scoops.
Day 1: We reinforce all doors on the cage and I shove the cage once, hard, like a 10-pound cat might upon landing. It stays put. The bird ignores us.
Day 2: The bird climbs on everyone’s finger but mine. The children are in love with this bird. Nelson gets out his raptor glove and gets the bird on his hand. (At last, he is using his eagle stuff!) “Good boy, Chirps!” I say, feeling like the best mom around. Wait, I got his name wrong.
Day 3: I’m working in my home office next door to Scoop’s lair and I hear it for the first time: a chirp! I drop everything and bolt across the house (4 steps).
“Chirps, is that you?”
I am so proud. He says nothing.
Day 4: Time to get the cat thing over with. I can’t stand Scoops cooped up all day with the bedroom door closed except for the times I come running to find him saying nothing. So I open the bedroom door and wait. The cats arrive together. “Chirps,” I say, “prepare.”
In five minutes, during which the cats purr, rub and paw at the cage, Scoops becomes more animated than I have seen him his whole life here (less than a week). He races across the perch away from the cats. And then back and butts his head against the cage wall where the two cats are biting the thin white bars with caution, in slow motion.
The cats’ whiskers are literally inside the cage. His beak is poking out of the cage trying to touch them. Scoops does the impossible next: He starts chirping! I see it leave his lips. I knew it was him all along.
Next, he starts flapping his wings. Then back and forth along the perch. I watch in wonder. I’m not sure, but I think he is playing. The cats are in full support of this fun (one-time) game.
Then Scoops starts flying around his cage. Feathers are floating in the air (the tiniest white and green ones you ever saw, I pause a moment to admire). I can’t tell if the game is over or escalating.
“Are you ok, bird?” I holler over the ruckus. The cats are pouring a nice white wine to go with their meal.
The bird flies to the front of his cage and hangs there looking at me. I don’t think this looks fun anymore.
Day 5: Scoops chirps the whole day. I think he is calling for the cats but secretly I hope it’s for me.
I ask Kendall, who has adeptly gotten the bird on his finger since Day 2, to help me bond with this bird. When I put my hand in the cage, he scuttles across his perch. I corner him. “All aboard!”
He sets one spiny foot on my finger and a shiver runs down my spine. I swallow a small yelp. Then, the second talon is on my finger. Victory! We are one! His name is Scoops! I remember now!
Then, he goes bananas and tries to shoot out the cage door that is blocked by my winter-fat arms.
I screech. I drop the cage door and trap him. I run across the room (2 steps) and screech one more time. Kendall talks me down as he puts Scoops on his finger with no effort.
Day 6: Kids, the bird is all yours. I’ll stick with the cats and the white wine.