Last summer, our boys and their friend went on an overnight survival expedition. Our girls were green with envy. (Never mind that the boys had to butcher a chicken, and cook it, and ended up eating it nearly raw!)
So the scheming began...
Tuesday afternoon I observed whispering, and list-making, and secrets flying around. At one point, I heard oldest brother say, "Mom and Dad will NEVER let you do that!" Hmm. I thought maybe I should check into this.
The big ideas spilled out....
And I thought, "Why not?!" If parents were always sensible, children would have very few adventures.
Food was to be very minimal, but after seeing near starvation in their future, I suggested us 'hiding' food for them to find and eat.
Bedtime was their own decision. We saw them go out to the hydrant and brush their teeth, (boys would skip this step!) and then we heard them playing on the patio with their rip stick and scooter until they headed off to bed.
At 3:30 AM, Leon and I were jerked awake by a crack of thunder. Oh no! The girls! They don't particularly like thunderstorms, and sleeping in a building outside makes it even more scary. So we leaped out of bed to go haul them in. By now, it's pouring rain, so they wouldn't come in on their own.
We tucked them into their own bed and went back to our bed to try to sleep. But alas! This 40 year old Mom doesn't jump out of bed in the middle of the night and then quickly fall back to sleep again. Several hours later I heard my little girls sneak back outside, and then I fell asleep. They woke up and wanted to watch the sunrise and the storm was long over, so it was a great plan.
For breakfast, they ate a little tiny loaf of bread they were saving for this occasion. I hung bananas in a tree the night before. All they had to do was find them. I offered them yogurt too, and they didn't refuse.
By 10:30 they were bored. And a little hungry. (If you eat at 5:30, you get hungry before 12, they said.) Leon hid a 'nest' of eggs and they had a terrible time finding them. We discovered they were looking for a carton of eggs.
Their kind Daddy fired up the little charcoal grill and helped them scramble their eggs. They also grilled a couple of hot dogs.
The storm the night before had blown bird's nests out of trees along with baby birds. This is my opportunity to explain how Jesus cares about the birds and how much more He must care for us.
But my girls found a bird that was still alive and my oldest daughter's nurturing spirit kicked in high gear. There's nothing left to do at that point but help wherever you can and be prepared to wipe the tears when the creature dies.
Leon had some experience with baby birds. He tried to keep about 30 of them alive over various times of his childhood, and says about 1 actually lived. So with a 30 to 1 success rate in mind, he helped the girls chop up lunch meat into tiny pieces and showed them how to feed the bird. It was quite a sight to see. The little baby robin would open it's mouth and you dropped the food in after dipping it in water, and gulp! the food disappeared.
They named the bird Robin. They fed it faithfully....and I even took a couple of turns when Annika was at a birthday party. (If you know me at all, you know this was a stretch for me.)
Saturday morning the girls slept in, then came down cheerfully for breakfast. Over their bowls of cereal, they told us how they checked Robin before they came downstairs, and she is sleeping so peacefully. After breakfast, they will feed her, they said. Leon and I looked at each other, then he quietly headed upstairs to check on the status of the bird. He came down and said softly, "Girls, your bird isn't sleeping, it's dead." (How do you break that kind of news to your kids?!)
We wiped tears and comforted them and they recovered surprisingly well. And now Robin is just a memory, another story to tell their children someday.
And I can't help but be grateful for all the life my little girls get to experience. They don't even know how blessed they are. Dead birds and all.