I am not much of an animal person. Between allergies and a general disinterest in catering to even one more living thing, my family remains strictly pet-free. There was a carnival goldfish once, and later, Joey’s beloved lightening bug, “Freddie,” but their time with us was brief. Some parents work hard to foster an admiration for all God’s majestic creatures, great and small. But me?
Not so much.
It is not that I hate animals. I am rather ambivalent. I grew up with a remarkable Labrador that once saved my entire family from fire. I loved Smokey to pieces, but any devotion to animals started and stopped with her.
Yesterday, I glanced up to find a group of 11-year-old boys at the back door, breathless with excitement.
“We saved a baby bird!” my oldest son burst out.
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Walsh, we didn’t actually touch it with our hands,” assured a flame-haired pal who shares my obsession with E. coli. “We used stuff in the alley to pick it up.”
“It wasn’t squished or run over or anything, so we took it to the animal hospital on Western,” explained another boy, still incredulous that their mission had been successful and that the animal hospital hadn’t turned them away.
I listened to their animated banter and gentle mocking of each other’s deficiencies in bird-saving. I learned how they employed an empty Miller Lite box for safe transport, all the while convinced they were about to be arrested for “carrying beer.” I soaked up their glorious moment of childhood bonding and of human decency.
As the mother of three boys, I remain extremely sensitive to the increasing trend in male-bashing. After all, these are my loves, my life. They are not responsible for releasing a single ill onto the world. They are not predators or instigators of war.
Yet, even I once believed they would walk right past a fallen bird without notice.
These boys chose to carry a broken soul to safety in an old beer box.
It makes me wonder what they might do tomorrow if we let them.