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Children, much like birds, will test freedom
Liberty lore
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One Sunday afternoon I decided to take our two parakeets, Sam and Pam, from their small cage and transfer them to a larger cage. I took both cages outside to the porch, opened both doors and put the cages side by side, figuring the little birds would quickly fly into the other cage. Well, they simply would not budge from their perch. I stuck a small limb through the hole in the cage and tried to scare them into it. Their tiny feet curled tighter around the perch. All I knew to do was to stick my hand into the cage and pick each one up and put it into the cage.
As my hand entered the cage, lo and behold, before my very eyes, little blue Sam flew out of the small opening and zoomed across the yard! I stared in disbelief after the beautiful blue streak as he flew about before landing on an oak limb in the top of a tree. He bobbed his head from one side to the other and cheerfully began singing very loudly. I called, “Sam, Sam, come back.” But, Sam was not a dog that would come when called and I certainly could not chase him in the air.
After singing for a few minutes, Sam flew over the treetops and away. I was amazed how high he could fly after being penned up all his life and never having had a chance to use his wings.
I was all alone at home that afternoon. I sat on the doorstep and thought about how I would explain the escaped bird to my husband. Oh well, no use worrying about something that I could not help. I would just put Pam, the yellow female, in the big cage and buy another one to keep her company.
Bravely, I stuck my hand in the cage and grabbed her gently. Pam clamped her beak down hard on my finger. I quickly turned her loose, not believing a tiny bird could produce so much pain. Again, to my astonishment, a bright yellow streak zoomed through the air! She flew around the house and came back to the plum tree where she perched at the very tip top. She, too, burst into song. I just sat on the doorstep staring at her, wishing she would come back.
I was still sitting on the doorstep when my husband drove up. He asked why I looked so gloomy. Immediately, he saw the empty bird cages. I did not have to tell him what had happened but I did try to explain it was not my fault. Over and over he told me how stupid it had been to take the parakeets outside to swap cages.
That night, I left both cages open on the porch, hoping they would come back.
Early the next morning as I entered the kitchen to prepare breakfast, silence greeted me. We had kept the parakeet cage near the kitchen window where the birds were able to get light. I was used to them singing to me every morning long before my husband and I climbed out of bed. That morning all was quiet. I hurried to the porch and looked into the cages. Empty. I decided the wild birds singing in the woods that day sounded more beautiful than usual. Maybe that was because two more little voices had joined the treetop choir.
Over the next several days, I often thought of our parakeets flying away from their safe cage where they had been cared for with love, fed and given extra treats. At times, they reminded me of our three children. We reared our children with love, fed and clothed them, educated and provided many opportunities for them to grow and mature as individuals.
Now my children are all older than 18 and they, too, want to test their wings — to escape from their small “cages” where all their needs were addressed.
As parents, we know our children will cross many hurdles and face obstacles as they set out on their own in this big world. But we hope we have trained them so they will do well and “sing their own songs.” We hope their melodies will blend nicely with others but still be unique.
Just as I left the parakeet cages open in case Pam and Sam wanted to come back home, we leave our homes open for our children. They can always return for a little while for nutritious food, emotional encouragement and support before they fly away again.
This month, many young people will graduate from area high schools. They are eager to go out on their own and explore the real world. And, like my parakeets, the children will enjoy their freedom at first. But, also like the birds, I’m sure they’ll see it’s harder to find their own food and make their own way in the world, making them appreciate the safe atmosphere and comforts of home.

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