The Kind of Kid She Is
Emma, our youngest, loves animals. We’ve got one pet and that’s a skinny runt of a rescue dog named Scrapy. Emma’s always trying to keep that dog out of trouble. She made this sign once and taped it to the inside of Scrapy’s crate. It said, “Thank you for not whining.”
That’s the kind of kid she is.
Grandma Larkin gave Emma a bird feeder for her birthday and Emma’s done a right fine job keeping it full. Grandma learned Emma how to make nectar.
“4 to 1,” that’s what her Grandma says. Every Saturday, Emma climbs up on the stool in the kitchen so she’s taller than the stove. She stirs one scoop of sugar into four scoops of water; brings it to a boil and lets it cool. Frank, her Dad, helps her take the feeder out of the tree in the backyard and hang it back up. Emma’s good with pets. She’s the one that does the reminding.
But the hummingbirds kept flying into the windows so we had a little talk about how they couldn’t see the glass and thought they was just flying into the living room and instead they was breaking their necks. And that it was quick because they had little necks but it was sad none the less.
I told Emma she could put some stickers on the windows so the birds would know there was glass there. Emma cut some mailing labels into strips and pieced the strips together to make letters. She wrote cheerful words – like HAPPY and LOVE and SMILE. Her brothers teased her, saying birds can’t smile. But that didn’t bother Emma like it bothered her that when she went outside all the words was backwards.
I was pulling up my window shade this morning, welcoming the rising sun, when I saw a lump of something; I wasn’t sure what, lying still on the wet pavement on our front walk. At first I thought it was a rodent, or if I was lucky, the gopher who’s been leaving mounds of dark dirt in our other-wise green grass.
I didn’t want Emma to see whatever it was.
“Where are my slippers?”
For lack of better, I pulled on my rain boots, which was left on the rug inside the front door. I approached what-ever it was, carefully. I don’t know about you, but I would rather come upon something dead, than dying.
I squinted, having not-yet put on my glasses, and moved forward, carrying a twig from the firewood box just in case I would need to do some poking.
I moved forward, slowly, and saw, sadly, it was a bird—a beautiful, brown bird with an amazing yellow tip on its tail feathers. Dead. Deader than a door nail. Must a hit the front window, I figured.
We divide up tasks in our family. Emma does all the “I love animal things.” Henry has -- empty the garbage, take the cans to the road, kill the spiders and “dead animal duty.” I told Henry that a bird must a hit the window and he went out, straight away, to “take care of it.”
He didn’t want Emma to see it either.
When Henry came in, tracking dirt on the floor, I whispered, “What did you do with it?”
“Went to the morgue, got a cute little casket and buried him,” He sheepishly grinned and I raised my eyes up and to the right, sucking on my bottom lip.
I was glad there was no funeral this time. Our last ceremony-- over a goldfish -- left Emma confused as to where heaven was.
Frank told Emma to get out her mailing labels and make another sign.
He helped her put the numbers and letters on the front window.
They wrote: 90TZ
That’s the kind of man he is.