To say I was a tad nervous is an understatement. My daughter was centerstage, in front of 40+ people, who knew me relatively well. Our church was enjoying a congregational evening of playing the game Family Feud, and Alice was facing off with another child.
The Feud had apparently surveyed 100 children, asking them the number one thing their mothers were most likely to be heard yelling at their children. Alice was about pronounce what she thought was the number one answer, based on her experience with her own mother of course.
Scenes from the day flashed before my eyes (and ears) as I could hear myself scolding Alice, just before we left for church, for not brushing her hair, for lounging in the bathtub too long, and for misplacing an item we needed to take to church. Which one would she pick as the number one reprimand?
Or would she go back earlier in the day and choose other phrases that regularly come from my mouth on at-home school days, phrases such as “What are you supposed to be doing, Alice?” or “Where should you put that? * big sigh *” or “Focus, Alice,” all usually uttered in frustration.
Worse yet, what awful words did I once speak rashly, words that scarred her for life and should never be repeated, but are so deeply entrenched in her little, sensitive mind that that is the only thing she could think of under pressure and will now reveal to my fellow church-goers. (My guess is those words probably aren’t church-rated.)
I waited with a pounding heart and instantly sweaty palms. Which of my expectations weighed on my daughter the most?
* * *
Recently, Ian spent some time in our garage, engaged in his newest past time of hammering and sawing on bits and pieces of scrap wood. He brought his finished project upstairs for all to admire; it was a bird feeder.
It’s hard to admire a bird feeder that isn’t going to feed any birds. Daniel and I didn’t say anything, but we didn’t expect any birds to visit the feeder which was a piece of wood with a hanger going up through the middle.
The feeder would blow around in the wind if it stayed attached to a branch. But even more problematic, it would be pillaged by squirrels long before any bird set foot on it.
To be honest, it was a project I was hoping Ian would forget about. Out of sight, out of mind, so I moved it to the basement where I hoped it would camouflage well with several other half finished projects that reside there.
Not only didn’t Ian forget, he insisted I buy bird seed. I didn’t want to buy seed, so I told him he needed sides on the feeder to protect the seeds from the wind…and the squirrels, who would tip the end of the feeder into their mouths and watch all those tasty seeds slide right into their cheek pouches.
Ian was not deterred. After some more time in the garage….Ta-da!
He was even more proud of his bird feeder with newly installed ledges. I didn’t have the heart to tell him to keep his expectations low.
After several trips to the store and “forgetting” to buy bird seed, I finally bought a bag of cheap sunflower seeds, which claimed to attract cardinals. I’ve seen cardinals around our house, but I was still sure even the most deluxe bird seed wouldn’t coax the cardinals to Ian’s feeder, at least not before the squirrels ate everything.
Did I mention squirrels?
The first day Ian put out seed, Daniel and I watched as a squirrel hung onto a branch with its back legs and then stretched out onto the feeder, using his front legs to help himself to a large lunch of sunflower seeds, his body suspended between branch and feeder.
Well, I for one was not about to feed squirrels all winter long. But for now, we had a bag of seed that would otherwise sit in the garage for years to come, so Ian kept putting it out.
On the third day, I happened to glance out the window as I’d been somewhat keeping watch on the feeder happenings. If nothing else, it is entertaining to watch the squirrels suspend themselves between the tree and the feeder for a quick snack.
But this time, it wasn’t a squirrel I saw. Something blue caught my eye, and I did a double take. I realized a male blue bird was sitting in the tree.
I’ve never seen blue birds around our house, so I was very excited. I think they are positively beautiful birds. After a bit, a female joined him. In a few minutes, another male came.
At one point, we had five!! yes, five! blue birds in the tree. Ten years of living at this location, and we’ve never seen one blue bird, much less five at the same time!
Who knows if they actually came because of the feeder. Or if the feeder was merely the tool that caused me to watch closely, allowing me this glimpse of a rare bluebird reunion. Either way, every time I think of Ian’s bird feeder, I will be filled with awe at the beauty of such a lovely bird.
So much for low expectations.
* * *
So back to Family Feud. What did my daughter proclaim as the number one thing mothers are known to yell at their kids? What does Alice feel is my number one expectation of her?
I’m so very sad to say that I will never know. She didn’t get to answer. Her opponent buzzed in first with the number one answer (clean up/pick up your things), and Alice went back to her seat without saying a word.