Archive for February 27th, 2012

My ten-year old son, Daniel, left this morning for his first school camp.   Walking to school I recited as many helpful motherly tips as I could muster.   Don’t muck around all night – get some sleep or you’ll get sick, don’t put wet clothes back in your bag, listen to your teachers, don’t hang out with the naughty boys, be sensible and don’t eat too many lollies.   He replied with a resigned ‘yes Mum’ to each pearl of wisdom, but I’m sure he’ll be awake all night giggling and eating lollies, and he’ll arrive home with a sore throat and a bag full of mouldy T-shirts and socks.  He’s a little boy afterall.

The house feels quiet and empty now.   Even before my younger son left for school, I sensed a void.  There is a special place that each of us fill in our home.  So often I long to return to the quiet and ordered pre-children days, but my kids seem to have rebuilt my existence with their noise and unpredictability.   Now I’m awkward in the silence, like the party guest who has arrived too early, standing alone in a room of balloons and empty champagne flutes.

Daniel often asks for a puppy.  As we travel a lot and have busy lives, we have instead encouraged his love of birds.   Rather than a bird locked in a small cage, he has befriended a local mob of white cockatoos who arrive at all times of the day and evening like unruly hooligans, slate grey beaks pecking at outdoor furniture as they waddle along on clumsy feet, adorned with yellow crest fascinators, creating havoc.   Daniel has named each of them.  His favourite is ‘Slayer’ who often stands by the back door staring beseechingly with his beady eyes.

Another favourite is ‘Sackbot’, a black and white pee wee with a squawk that could wake a drunk man from the deepest sleep.  He’s arrived now at the back-door calling shrilly for Daniel. I explain in great detail  that he is away at camp and will be back on Wednesday night.  He squawks even louder, head to one side and I suspect he feels as heartbroken as I do.

I admire many things about Daniel.   I love his kind and gentle nature, his sense of humour and his love of animals.   I also admire the way he has accepted the ‘no puppy’ rule and has adapted to his role as friend to the wild birds.   He doesn’t complain about what he doesn’t have, but he appreciates and enjoys what he does have.  As he sprinkles sunflower seeds in the birds’ special dish each morning he feels he is accomplishing something very worthwhile.  His smile is wide when he hand-feeds his feathered friends and tickles their soft bellies.

One of my greatest wishes for my sons is that they learn to live life as ‘glass half full’ type of people.   No matter what their future holds, I hope they are able to make the best of every situation, and to find goodness in whatever life throws at them.   Life can be challenging and cruel, but the one thing we have control over is how we react to it.   I’ve met people with privileged lives who are always miserable, and others facing enormous challenges who keep smiling and outwitting their misfortunes. I hope Daniel will continue to feed the cockies, and choose to live a life of joy.

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. – Abraham Lincoln

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