Recently I wrote about how the bluebirds in our box were preparing to leave the nest, much to my chagrin. As it happened, however, while the four little baby-blues did indeed fly away, their parents, whom I for some reason have begun calling Sonny and Cher (which is a little mixed up, I realize, as Sonny is the one with the flashy plumage while Cher is a tad more reserved) never did. Instead the pair kept their residence in the yard, flying about their usual haunts and even resting often on their nesting box. I thought this was a little odd, because usually the parents disappear once the chicks are gone and so I got suspicious and hooked the ‘birdy cam’ back up to the t.v. and soon saw four new little eggs! So it seems that Sonny and Cher missed their brood so much they started a new one. Now the two of them are back to frenetically flying back and forth bringing an assortment of juicy bugs to their open-mouthed, rapidly-growing off-spring. Why would they give up the freedom and relaxation of life without dependents to begin reproducing anew right away?
I’m sure a biologist would explain my bluebirds’ second nest as an instinctual drive to reproduction, but how do you explain why I spend twelve hours each day running around with my two little boys? And more to the point, why do I feel despondent every time I think about Josh and Jake growing up and (oy, one day…) moving out? Do Sonny and Cher feel the same way when they contemplate their chicks finally growing real feathers and one day flying off for good?
Of course there are big differences between the maturation of a four hatchlings and the development of two Homo sapien males. For one thing, I doubt that when Momma bluebird spends hours chasing around after dinner and finally flies home with a fat, juicy moth for her little ones that they look at it, make a face and say, “Yuck, I hate moths. Why do you always bring such yucky insects? I hate everything you bring me!” Nor do I think that when the fledglings go to take their first awkward flutters from the nest and their parents are chasing away all potential predators that the chicks turn to their parents and say, “Why don’t you leave me alone. I don’t need your help, I’m not a little chick anymore!”
Meanwhile my six-year old, Josh, thinks he doesn’t need me anymore. Or at least until he needs help unlocking legos or opening the front door. And while he still wants Mom to snuggle into bed with him before he falls asleep at night, he has little interest in me when his friends are around. Which is all as it should be—I want my boys to grow up and be as independent as possible. I just wish it wouldn’t happen so soon. At least until it’s time for them to fly out of the nest.