A week or so ago (when it was a warmer day) the little blond boy wanted to get the heck out of Dodge and go ride his bike in the driveway. Almost five, I can trust him enough to stick to that large slab of asphalt that is nestled in between our house and our neighbor’s (who are like family). I kept the window open and the side door cracked so I could yell out if I needed to but mostly so I could hear the sounds of a four year old boy racing his growing collection of outdoor toys up and down the way. The little red head was asleep upstairs and I needed to clean up some things in the house before dinner time.
And then it was quiet. I wasn’t alarmed, he sometimes gets into things like the bubbles or his toy gardening tools. After a few minutes I peaked out and saw that his-sized shovel was out, dirt was strewn about and two of my terra cotta pots were now filled with soil. ‘Where did he find the dirt…‘ ah, from the flower bed of emerging daffodils, okay…’and where is my son…?‘ And there he was, with a medium sized bag of bird seed and an old broken plastic feeder I had placed by the trash can in the garage to be thrown out weeks earlier. He had taken both things out to the white rusty crook near our garden and I watched as he very carefully poured the bird seed into the top. He hardly spilled any. I watched silently. My four year old attached the top, and hung it on the crook, so very, very proud of how he helped mommy and daddy, yet more importantly that the birds now had some food to eat.
We had put that feeder out months earlier with bird seed and most of it ended up wet and packed in the tube from some bad weather. I hadn’t seen a bird on it in ages. We were too lazy to clean it out and try again. Lots of other things were on our list to get done and that was not one of them. But this time, within a half hour, I spied about four or five common house sparrows happily feasting on what Miles had set out for them.
It’s so, so, so ordinary. So simple, so uneventful. But for me, in my struggle with fighting wrong battles of parenthood, choosing to stand back and watch a little boy have a helpful and compassionate heart was a big step. Adults are always concerned with doing something. I didn’t want him to make a mess. I didn’t want him to waste bird food and therefore money if he spilled it. That feeder was broken- meant for the dump. I have no idea why I refrained from yelling at him out the window, rushing out and rescuing the bird seed from a pre-schooler’s clutches- avoiding certain disaster…but I’m glad I did nothing. Nothing but choosing to be silent and watch. And I think of it every day now. It makes me joyful and breaks my heart at the same time.
We are broken, yet seen as something worthy to be filled- just as we are. Able to give and nurture with what we’ve been given.
“Mommy- see what I did for you? I filled the pots so you can plant your flowers in them, and I fed the birdies so you and daddy didn’t have to.”
“Look, Miles, the birds are eating the food you gave them, look at them all!”