Earlier this week Mary went chasing after the ice cream man, much to my annoyance. But she didn't return with a Popsicle--she returned with a pigeon.
"Mom! Quick! Call the police! I've caught a pigeon with a broken wing!"
"Ack! Don't bring it in the house! Put it down! Wash your hands!" I cry, equally panicked.
O Patron Saint of Injured Fowl, help me.
"Mom, isn't she adorable? I've named her Wenzie. I just love the way she bobs her head around. I think she likes it in this Rubbermaid I found in the closet."
"In MY closet?"
"No in the playroom closet. Look, I used one of your towels for her bedding, and have these different bowls for food and water. I hope I can keep her forever. Mom, can I keep her?"
Finally, my opportunity to recite one of those little poems floating around in my head has arrived.
"If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it was meant to be."
(This couplet also came in handy during my dating years.)
She is not deterred.
"So I can keep her, right? At least until she's better."
I am weak. I don't agree, but I don't disagree.
"She's a wild bird though, and she wants to be free," I say. "It will be a happy day when she's well enough to be on her own."
"Yeah, I know," she concedes. "I'd just like to be there when it happens."
"Cameron! Harrison! The school bus is here!"
"MOM! CAMERON WAS PETTING THE PIGEON AND LET HER OUT OF THE BOX! SHE'S RUNNING AWAY! LOOK, SHE'S UNDER THAT CAR! GO GET HER!"
"We let her out for a minute and then she started walking really fast and we chased her but we couldn't catch her and she ran out of the back yard and THERE SHE GOES! GO GET HER!"
I help the boys get their backpacks on. They climb the bus steps.
"Okay, I'll do my best!" I say with a parting wave. "Have a great day!"
The bus pulls away.
Wenzie changes course and waddles up the driveway, bobbing her head back and forth. I stare at her.
"Go play with your cousin," I command, gesturing down the street.
She stares back at me.
I'm sorry, but I just can't bring myself to pick up a pigeon.
"MOM, WENZIE'S GONE!" Mary wails as she comes through the sliding glass door.
I hug her close to me as she sobs. "I know, Mare. But we should be happy, because now she's free."
"I think the twins dumped her out," she accuses.
"Why would you say that?"
"Because everything was tipped over," she says.
"Well, I don't know about that, but you should feel proud about how well you took care of her while she was with us."
"I loved her, Mom."
"I know you did, Mare."
Suddenly her face brightens.
"So am I responsible enough to get a pet?"
"Mare, you have to make sure you keep the sliding glass door closed, because guess what was in our kitchen last night."
"A scorpion," I reveal.
"Where is it now?" she asks.
"Well, Dad killed it," I say, expecting a sigh of relief.
"What?! Why did you do that? I could have kept it! Why didn't you just let it outside?"
"Because it's a SCORPION, Mare. Scorpions can kill you."
"Not all of them. But that's their defense against predators so they can't help it. Mom, why did you DO that?"
"Okay, I'm not going to have a discussion on Scorpion Rights with you. Just keep the door closed."
O Patron Saint of Parents Who Don't Want Pets, save me.