I had to look up how to spell “karma”. Does that mean I know even less about it than I thought I did?! Oy!
Several nights ago my husband thought it would be neat to invite my four year old outside to watch a little quail family run through our backyard. Now, this is a huge mistake—inviting a testosterone laden little boy–to visit the sacred trail of survival that a little family of quail runs each morning and each evening through our yard–with their tiny little balls of scantily clad fur. They grab food from our yard in forms we do not find threatening since they eat very little. Our family doesn’t eat all the little bugs and grass they do, so it’s a great symbiotic relationship.
They have done this for years, and we “ooh” and “aah” at them whenever we can—from the window. But today, daddy thought this would be a cool moment to share between dudes. God Bless dudes everyone… but this is not dude time material. My four year squealed with delight at dad’s request and bailed out one of the back doors in search of the little family. I could only see a part of the episode from inside because I was pretty sure I might start taking over if I peeked out. I could see my husband being the “nice” parent and asking my son to leave them alone over and over and over and over. I knew it wasn’t good—whatever was happening. I squeezed my eyes open to see a small quail (the size of one of the wings you eat at the local pub, all slathered in hot sauce) giving an almost unrecognizable pitch of fear as he ran between my sons small legs. My son was hoping to catch them but when told not to—he decided just to chase them. The delight of feeling the small chick brush against his foot was too much excitement for his entire lifetime. I held my breath, thankful he didn’t stand ON the chick.
Big sigh. Inside I couldn’t help but feel the fear and pain of the quail parents as their little well-organized line of chicklets begins to peel away and become the offense pattern of a college football game. It was horrible. I still kept my perch inside as my husband became more and more frustrated but still couldn’t get out a good, “Get in the damn house” like I would have bellowed. This would have been followed by a monologue of things he should have understood by the tone and verbiage I used to yell at him outside, a small history of small animals’ growth patterns and ending with a sad story about my own feelings if someone made me lose my children in a large place. Let’s say my son got off easy.
I didn’t truly know the extent of the damage until finally my son was corralled into the house while my husband went out front to look for the little chick that got away. Arrgghh, one got away. I quietly snuck went into the backyard while everyone else was wandering about inside and out—looking for the chick. I was quiet, but I hadn’t truly disengaged. I sat quietly and listened to everyone in the house and watched a little bug swim in the pool while I sat. It was kinda big actually. I watched for a moment, and made myself go look. Why, it was a little quail. Look at the little baby swim like that! How cute! Hmmm, I wonder to myself, “I should ask my husband if quail swim.” I walk calmly out front, look about for a moment and finally find my husband still looking for the missing chick—who apparently is swimming in the pool. It takes me a minute to count up mother quail’s losses and realize that the swimmer is the one my husband is looking for. Wouldn’t ya know—my husband says quail don’t swim. I feel no stress, though, because I saw the little guy motoring. You just never know what a being is capable of until they are put in the position! Right?!
The end of the story is sad, and tears started pouring down my face. By the time we got back to the pool, my husband–skimmer in hand, I with fear that I had done the unforgivable—saw the little quail was no longer swimming. It was more of a sideways flop. My heart sank to the bottom of the pool and much lower. It was as if someone had handed me the ultimate—you suck as a mother of the universe badge. And how did my husband (who didn’t know that asking a four year old boy to “watch” the baby quails quietly was, well, just plain stupid) know that quail don’t swim? And how did this same man treat it with such care? He tried to place the struggling baby over the fence where his loudly chirping momma was looking for him. I felt like a big bite had been taken out of my karma. And I am hoping someone tells me I am over-reacting… But it was the worst moment. I just sat there trying to think of what I could have done differently! And since then, I am more aware of the water habits of birds and animals of all kinds. Some of those nuggets of knowledge have been because we’ve found a chipmunk, a scorpion and a bunny in the pool filter since then. The guilt is wearing off, but I am pretty sure I am going to have to free a captive gorilla from the zoo and return it to its birth mom in Tanzania in order to make this wrong right.