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Parenting 101 is all around us, just watch

Our house played host to a parenting 101 seminar this weekend, and my husband and I took a few notes.

- Know when to push your children

-Know when to swoop in and protect

- Stay tirelessly attentive

- Support your spouse as you support your child

- Motivate

- Protect

- Provide

- And, when the time is right, let go

It was child rearing in a nutshell, or should a say a beak full?

We didn’t realize such a loving couple had moved into the Mississippi-shaped birdhouse in our back yard.

I’m sure they had come and gone countless times in the last few months, but we are busy folks, and frankly, we don’t really stop often to smell the roses or watch the birds.

But Saturday was different for both loving couples — the Carolina Wrens and Kevin and I.

The wrens were causing quite the ruckus, and Kevin and our dog Suzy noticed first.

Mom and dad wren were tripling their frequent flyer miles from the top of our wooden fence to the ground it encases. And something or someone down below was crying.

It didn’t take long to realize that our dogs — the avid hunter and the lazy bum — must begin serving their time on house arrest.

We had a baby bird to help protect, after all.

So we herded inside all creatures that must surely have appeared to the tiny baby bird as terrifying giants.

We grabbed the binoculars and the parenting seminar began.

Carolina Wrens, we learned by watching and verified online, are monogamous critters.

Both mom and dad were clearly heavily invested in each other and in baby wren. They took turns working as lookout — there were a few much larger mockingbirds to chase away — from atop the fence and as motivator, feeder and prodder with junior down below.

These were smart, well-prepared parents as well. They had already made one wonderful decision, building their nest in a comfy Southern-style birdhouse located on the interior of a fence well away from the majority of predators — the four-legged, tail-wagging hunter and couch potato aside.

Unfortunately, no one can predict the future, and the same decision that must have seemed so well thought out at the time cost them dearly before we ever noticed junior wren.

You see, Kevin and I took the pool cover off last week.

When these wrens moved in, our back yard was practically a neo-natal intensive care unit. Nothing would have harmed their babies. But Saturday, before we discovered baby wren No. 2, Kevin found baby wren No. 1 — floating face down in the pool.

Alas, life is tough. But these parents didn’t hang their heads, for there was still junior with which to contend.

All day Saturday, all day Sunday at all morning long Monday, mom and dad sat on top of the fence while junior hopped, pooped, cried and flew-fell along the pine straw bed that surrounds our back yard rose bushes.

I saw parental wren feed the squirt one of his first ugly, bright green grubs. And I saw where he decorated the lower ledge of our fence with it a few hours later.

I saw him make dozens of failed attempts to flap with enough coordination to clear our tall fence and enter the green, green world beyond.

And we watched, late Sunday, as he finally figured out how to fly — horizontally — for about five feet before resting.

He was there Monday morning when I left for work, hopping, eating and of course pooping. I left him safely in the care of his wonderful parents.

And when Kevin and I came home for lunch Monday, we knew a milestone had occurred.

Junior was gone. His parents were nowhere to be found. And the pool strainers were, thankfully, clear of tragedy.

He made it over, we know, thanks in every possible way to his parents.

I’m not a scientist, and I can’t tell you whether birds love or not.

But I do know, without a doubt, that the Carolina Wrens in my back yard exhibited every bit of love and responsibility that every human child deserves.

If only every two-legged mother and father could learn from wren parenting 101, what a different world it might be.


Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.