Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Max used to wear these.
Then, all of a sudden, he wakes up and his feet are big and he knows calculus and CPR and how to change a flat tire and a thing or two about physics and music and being a trusted friend and a good boyfriend, and his arms are so strong that I can’t wrestle with him and win anymore.
Where the hell have I been? Why am I so surprised by this?
On Thursday morning, he’ll put on his flip-flops, cargo shorts, his new USC t-shirt and a ball cap, walk out the door, get on a plane and fly from this nest to Los Angeles to begin the next chapter of his life.
When, exactly, are birds ready to leave the nest, you might ask? I have been turning this question over in my own mind lately. Apparently it has to do with surviving predatory attacks. The sooner a little birdie learns to fly, the safer he/she will be.
“Most birds cannot fly until their muscle structure has had time to develop. In the meantime, the nest becomes their entire world. Baby birds are not responsible for food gathering or protection of the nest, so they generally develop a psychological dependence, which must be overcome. Parent birds begin to teach their fledglings the importance of flying by remaining a short distance away from the nest during feeding. If the young birds are to survive, they must step away from the nest. Frequently, this means a few hard falls to the ground followed a long trip back to the safety of the nest.
All of this practice time, awkward as it may seem, does teach the fledgling about the mechanics of flight. Falls to the ground become more controlled as the young bird stretches out his or her wings. Short hops back to the nest become longer flights. Bird parents continue to encourage their brood to leave the nest for longer periods of time. Some species actually adopt a tough love policy, leaving the fledglings alone to develop their own flying instincts.”
- From Wisegeek.com/ How do birds learn to fly?
Okay, so Max has pretty much mastered the mechanics of flight. He’s suffered through the awkward stages. He’s had his share of hard falls to the ground. He’s done the short hops and the eventual longer flights. I guess it IS true that he’s moved on to the point where he glides with a fair amount of grace, poise and confidence. But, wait, what about me? The mom he’s leaving behind - the one who’s still willing to do the food gathering, the protecting, the nurturing? (I’ll even continue to throw in doing his laundry, laughing at his jokes and pretending not to notice when he hasn’t bathed for a few days!)
And, by the way, I haven’t detected any potential attackers lurking around the neighborhood.
Is it really possible that this nest of ours on 58th Street is no longer his entire world?
I know, get out the violins. Get a grip, Gloria, you say. I can guess what you’re thinking: lots of moms have already gone through this and survived it beautifully - with dignity, a minimum of tears and only a slight weight gain. Many courageous women before me have been able to say good-bye, then turn around and convert their kid’s room to an office or weight-room, pilates or yoga studio. But, this is MAX we’re talking about!
He had such cute little feet and, and when he padded about in his beloved Mickey Mouse shoes, his big sister chasing after him, this nest was bustling and full and noisy and fun and challenging