By Diane Ako
Kids have SUCH big mouths. There lives a grey pigeon in the tree outside my house. It moved in half a year ago, and I first noticed it because it coos incessantly.
I like most animals, and I used to not mind pigeons, so it took me by surprise when I reacted negatively to this one. I now associate pigeons with urban dirtiness. He sits in the same spot so there's a big patch of poop under his branch.
One day, when the next door neighbor was out, I asked her if she noticed the new resident, and if she liked it. "That's Walter," she said, and that she didn't mind it.
The fact that it has a name probably meant someone around here likes it. She explained that her next door neighbor, Glenn, rescued it as a chick, nursed it to health, and released it to the wild. Walter apparently interpreted "wild" to mean 20 yards from the man who feeds him.
I try to like it more knowing this little back story, but it really hasn't helped much. I don't love it, I don't have a better reason than that.
It's minor in the whole scope of things, really, but when I hear it, I always exclaim to anybody and nobody, "Ugh, I don't like that bird."
One day after I said what's become a routine declaration, Olivia answered, "Glenn said, 'The nerve of you and your mother to say you dislike Walter.'"
I turned around to look at her. "What did you say?" I quizzed. She repeated.
"How does he know how I feel about the pigeon? Did you tell him?" I asked. I already - and you already - know the answer.
"Yes!" she said, and biked off. Thanks, Miss Neighborly Relations.
Kids can't keep a secret, and so I've decided to use this power for good. Later that day, the neighborhood BFF Kira was over playing.
I'm always half-listening to their conversation, and this one involved playing "old." Olivia wanted to pretend she was 19, and Kira decided to be her mother's age. I shall not repeat what sounded like an accurate number.
I poked my head around the corner and offered, "Olivia, why don't you be your Mommy's age, too? So you could be 26 or 27 years old?"
Of course, the kids have absolutely no idea that age 26, for me, was eons ago. They think a person aged 19 or 20 seems old. I know, because I asked for purposes of this article. For them, I'm far on the other side of the "Old Person" border.
Claus, however, was listening. And laughing.
That's OK. They want to repeat everything they hear, they can go ahead and repeat that one to the whole block. Next, I'll work on making them think I'm a rocket scientist.