Once I remarked to someone that I really loved quail. He responded, “Me too. They are so delicious.” He got the desired response from me – a playful slug on the arm and a laugh. I explained that I loved to watch quail, the multiple coveys of them that live around our house. When they visit each afternoon, I have to stop what I am doing just to observe them. Their Disney-cartoonish way of running, their funny topknots jiggling, is comical and entertaining. But what I really love is the familial, almost tender, way they behave with each other. There is always a lookout, eyes alert to threats darting this way and that. Then a couple of adults pop out, maybe a few more (I assign roles to them like the aunt and uncle, a couple of cousins, and maybe a brother-in-law) and before long there is a great flurry of young’uns…but always, always surrounded by a group of grownups. I know, I know – they’re just birds. But I wonder how they manage to parent so carefully, so watchfully with so many children! It clearly takes a quail village!
Sometimes I wonder if anyone grew up loved and cared for in the right way – or at least in the way they wanted. When the deficit begins early in life, and no one notices, one can carry that gaping wound around for a lifetime. It often takes us down roads we would never travel by choice, searching for the missing piece of ourselves that was never validated or acknowledged. And so we wander, bewildered, well into adulthood, desperate to be understood and loved for who we really are…as if we knew. Get any group of adults together talking about their childhood and one gets the feeling that ‘dysfunctional family’ is redundant. Any TV newscast presents pretty clear evidence of the multitude of disheartened, disengaged children who are growing up convinced that they are unlovable. Why, in a society where miracles happen every day in technology, medicine and science, can’t we care for our children more wisely?
Is that such a bird-brained idea?