It is no secret that I love animals. All of them. I delight in their different intelligences and behaviors. I secretly believe that I have some sort of special relationship/ communication with them, that I can call whales, calm bulls, and bring wild life to me. Part of my adult self knows that sort of belief is ludicrous, but the rest of me continues to act on that belief, much to my husbands dismay.
It is no wonder then that we find our suburban home filled with life forms other than human. I get caught by my love for animals in situations that are most uncomfortable, and frankly disturbing.
We are now parents to a new frog who "hitchhiked" back from our latest camping adventure aided and abetted by one of the sweeties. I pulled back the shower curtains to clean the tub and found the little fellow zipping happily back and forth along the tub's length. "Ladybug!" I yelled. "There is a guest in the bathroom."
Today Ladybug came crying in once again. This time with a story about a magpie who dropped a baby bird in our yard while being chased by another bird. "I don't know what to do. Please help me save it Mom."
This puts me in a terrible spot. We couldn't find the nest anywhere. We hid, and waited for the mom to return. We returned from swimming and no mom. Ladybug was panic stricken. "Honey, we can't keep a baby bird alive. If we touch it the parents will have nothing to do with it. We can't feed it, can't keep it warm . . . we know nothing about raising baby robins. Besides, we have dogs and a wonderful cat. That baby is as good as dead."
"Mom, we can't just leave it here for the magpie! We have to at least try to save it." I am horrified. Once more, I am put in the position of trying to raise a wild animal that we have no business touching. But what to say to my daughter?
All right then. I am beaten. I produced a makeshift nest then moved him into it while wearing medical gloves, as though my smell would be worse than the latex. He nestles right in.
Ladybug set up a heat lamp in her room. We all gathered worms. The glutinous little tyke ate and ate and ate. No less than twenty worms have gone into that little one's gullet this afternoon and still he squawks. We are already smitten with his patchy bald head, alien body, and loud open mouth. I am a magnet for pain. I curse inwardly as I feel that I have erred, that our assistance is somehow a crime against these animals I love so much. Which death is worse? One that nature provides or one that humans unknowingly inflict?
My conflicted decision is that I can't teach my children compassion with my lips then expect them to watch suffering without doing all they can to alleviate it. Ouch. It hurts.