Republished from July 18, 2005
This spring we moved to a new house with the wonderful front porch I've always wanted. There was just one troublesome thing about it. Ahem. Pssst -- bird poop.
I watched as a couple of 'lovebird' swallows frequented the porch, often perching on the window molding. Their excrements dribbled down my front windows, or splattered my "welcome" sign and flowerpots. Next thing I knew, they were building a nest on the eave above the porch pillar, and creating their own little sewer on my front steps.
I suspected that there were eggs in the nest so I couldn't give an eviction notice. I grabbed the hose instead. How grateful I am for that little bit of nature knowledge I had, because there were indeed eggs, and they hatched into the cutest little babies I've ever seen besides my own.
All we could see of the babies (we called them "beaks with fuzz") were their beaks sticking up over the top of the nest, constantly open. The proud mamma and papa were kept very busy tag team parenting. From morning to night, one would sit with the babies while the other flew off to get food. As soon as the one parent returned, the other took off in search of more food. This continued back and forth all day. Occasionally both parents left momentarily, and there sat the babies, beaks open and waiting.
This live and personal little NOVA episode caused me to ponder. My first thoughts were, "Wow! Those parents must be exhausted! How can they keep this up?"
Then, as I watched those open, searching beaks, I thought of my own children. Are they just as hungry? What are they hungry for? What about all children? It dawned on me that youth are all alike. They come to this earth hungry. They're hungry for knowledge and hungry for love. Those swallows aren't going to have to 'hand' feed their babies forever. It's such a short time that they have that great a need. And so it is with our children. We have such a small window of time to teach, train and nurture them in the love and safety of our own nests. What a blessing to be able to homeschool them, feed that hunger with the appropriate sustenance, and not lose any of that precious time before they get their wings!
I also learned that whatever messes these birds make on my porch, it's a small price to pay to preserve that little family. All families have their messes. All homeschools have their good and bad days. But the only thing that's forever is family. When the demands of a full nest create a little mess here and there, just get out the hose.
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