Grandfamilies: On Little League, Crows, and Gray Hats

2011 TanagerA Western Tanager (I Think) In Our Back Yard.

From our dining room, we enjoy sit-down views into the crowns of the trees in our back yard. Call it an upside, if you will,  of living on a hillside lot. We take our meals and watch the birds as a habit. This spring, crows are hanging out in our yard more than ever before. I don’t value the crows. In fact, I wish they’d move on to someone else’s trees.

I thought about the unwelcome crows last Saturday when a bunch of us went to the Little League field to watch grandson Ayden’s game. An essential component of watching the ball game is keeping a mindful eye on the other children in our group. With four grandparents, two parents, an uncle, and an aunt in attendance, we had adequate eyes to watch the three younger children in our party.

Keeping tabs on the children as we cheered for our team made me think of the crows in our trees at home. I don’t want the crows around because they raid the other birds’ nests, eating eggs and nestlings. They’re a threat. And at the ball field, we imagine threats to our children may lurk on the edge of the playground or just beyond the snack bar.

So my plan, this morning, was to write a post about finding the balance between safeguarding our children or grandchildren, on one hand,  and letting them explore and experience without helicoptering adults, on the other hand.

So I set out to photograph a crow with evil designs sitting in our eucalyptus tree. I failed. But in the effort, I discovered something important. 

crows nestThe Nest. 

Do you see it? The oak tree right beside the eucalyptus is hosting a crow’s nest. 

This discovery forces me to reconsider my one-dimensional ill opinion of crows. I’d been thinking of them as avian bandits. But now I have proof–hard evidence–that those crows are going about their business,  raising their own little crow nestlings. I can’t dismiss them as black-hatted bad guys anymore.

Now that I think of it, our beloved hummingbirds don’t really deserve the white-hat status either: I’ve seen them harassing my Labrador before. So,  all the birds wear gray hats. 

Isn’t it almost universally true of humans, too? Sadly, we know there are monsters out there who prey on children. But maybe, some of the people we want to keep away from our family’s precious children aren’t a risk at all. Maybe that cheeky kid down the street isn’t going to be a bad influence on my granddaughter. Maybe my granddaughter’s meant to be a good influence on the cheeky kid. And the honest truth is that my granddaughter’s hat isn’t white. She’s an awesome kid, but she’s not perfect. Neither am I. Neither are you.

The honest truth is we all wear gray hats.

I am reminded of the wise, wise words of my friend Deidra Riggs, who reminds us there is no Them. We all belong to each other. We’re all one big us. 

So yes, protect your family’s young from monsters in black hats. But remember that almost everyone isn’t a monster. We’re all trying to get through life. And as much as we may long for the simplicity of a world of white hats and black hats, we all wear gray hats.

And the real, genuine monsters? They belong to us, too. 

rabbit conga

10 Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:10-13 (NASB)

rabbit conga

On Tuesdays, we’re talking about families and the joys and challenges that arise when we stretch across three (or more?) generations (child, parent, grandparent). Everyone is welcome, and I hope to hear each generation’s perspective.  Being family is by turns effortless, impossible, blessed, challenging, hurtful, joyous . . . . Let’s talk about it.
Please join us.

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