Monday, September 27, 2010

Decibel's Antagonist Revealed

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where all parrots are lean, green, biting machines! Here's an update on the story below, in which Decibel, my macaw, got doused with Coca-Cola and otherwise pestered by an elementary school kid on her way home in the afternoon.

Today I clocked out at school just as soon as the "teacher bell" rang. I rushed home so I could be at my house in time for the local elementary to let out. I "baited" my porch with Decibel, who had been inside all day.

Sure enough, at about 3:20 I saw a girl come up on my porch. She started talking to Decibel and sticking her fingers in the cage.

So I went outside, calmly. Immediately it became clear that the girl in question has neurological difficulties.

First of all, she was old enough to know better than to pester a parrot, but she greeted me in a friendly way, with no remorse about what she was doing. I asked if I could walk to her home with her, and as we walked, she asked a dozen questions about Decibel that you might expect a much younger kid to ask. The one thing she asked me was, "Is he always that excited?" And I said, "No, he gets mad when someone puts their fingers in his cage."

Long story short, the girl was being babysat by her aunt, who told me that the girl has autism and has been bitten by other animals.

Decibel will stay indoors for now. Perhaps in the spring we will return him to the porch, but only if someone is watching him during after-school walk-home.

Personally I am ashamed of myself for thinking that Decibel's tormentor was malicious. Snobville has a heaping helping of mean kids, but this little girl is not among them.


miakoda said...

I think it is human nature to assume the worst, particularly when someone is invading your territory or hassling your loved ones (feathered or un-). Kudos to you for taking the time to walk her home, talk to her aunt, and get to the bottom of the situation before she got hurt -- there are many who simply would have yelled at her and sent her away.

Alex Pendragon said...

You should not be ashamed for making logical assumptions. Besides, I don't think the autism excuses her dousing the parrot with coke. If the girl is in danger of making inappropriate decisions while alone, then she should be walked home from school rather than be exposed to the dangers of "innocent" ignorance. Kudos to you for at least seeking out the one responsible for her and perhaps putting the pressure where it belongs.

Lori F - MN said...

I agree with Alex. The girl isn't responsible enough to walk home alone without causing trouble, even without intention.
I have special needs kids, and they know better than to put their fingers into a parrot's cage.

A Wild Celtic Rose said...

The most likely and most logical explanation would be mean bratty kid.

I think you handled it well, and it must be a relief to know that there isn't any malice and that her guardian understands what is going on.


we all made the same assumptions..and we all feel like shit now because we did..sigh*..we're assholes.

A Wild Celtic Rose said...

I don't feel like an asshole.

I (and many of us) came to the logical conclusion.

And more than one of us suggested talking to the parents.

It's not like we suggested shooting her on sight.

I think it worked out well.

Anne Johnson said...

I think that what Granny meant was that we should feel like assholes for making assumptions about little kids without all the evidence. This is a human failing. If you don't have it, Rose, you're the lucky one!

A Wild Celtic Rose said...

We all have failings.

I just don't see why anyone should feel like an asshole for coming to a what was the most logical conclusion.

As I said, no one planned on executing the kid but rather talking to the parents.

If someone else wants to feel like one, more power to them.

I'll save my self loathing for a different situation.

and to me, the important thing is that decibel is OK and the girl's guardians know what's going on.

Although, it seems that it's an ongoing problem which they have not seen fit to correct by better supervision. (hey, here's an idea, maybe they should feel like assholes ;)

Lori F - MN said...

We can hope that the guardians of this little girl realize that something far worse than being bitten by a parrot could have happened because she walks home alone. There are far too many child preditors out there. Not to mention kids themselves who could bully her to puff themselves up. What would stop this bright gullible child from being injured or killed outright.
Anne, I hope your intervention made her guardians aware of her vulnerability.

Rick Loftus, M.D. said...

What an awesome story. (Not the part about Decibel being scared or doused with Coca Cola, I mean. The part about discovering our wrong assumptions.) I agree with Rose, it IS very human of us to mentally wander into Defending ourselves. Our outrage at Decibel's suffering brought us quickly to find a focus, a villain.
Byron Katie tells a similar story about going into a bathroom, meeting a woman on the way out, and finding the toilet seat wet. She's filled with anger and imagines the former occupant is a horrible person. Then while cleaning it up, she flushes, and the water shoots right out of the toilet. It was wet because it was damaged, not because of the other person. Katie tells this story to remind us how quick our minds are to tell us stories that explain what we see--and how often we just don't know. We make so many assumptions that make us sad or angry. When we get p.o.'d by life, what we need to do first, is cool it, and wonder what's really going on. Just like you did.
I wonder if the little girl would benefit from some supervised visiting with Decibel. Autistic kids apparently get a lot of healing out of time with animals. I bet the Spare could help with that, as she seems as big-hearted as you are.
Anne, I already thought you were a bad-ass Druid warrior woman, but the patience you showed in wanting to find out what was really going on, followed by your typical compassionate treatment of what turned out to be an autistic little girl--that was Divine. Thank you. Your story made my week.

Anne Johnson said...

Oh, bless you all! I am actually still concerned about this little girl, because she is walking home with a smaller, younger cousin in an area where I would never let Heir and Spare walk home from school alone. I actually like the idea of supervised visits with Decibel, although "parrot weather" is really over for the year.

I don't feel like I did enough. I should have left my phone number with the "guardian," who seems content to let two little kids walk home alone while she sits in the house and waits for them.

Anyway, there is a happy ending in that no one got hurt, no one got yelled at, no upholstery was damaged, and the energy at my house is again positive.

Oh, and another thing. I'm often frustrated with Decibel and his noisy biting habits, but this reminded me that I love him -- faults and all -- and that I need to be a better companion to him myself.

Witch Mom said...

Another parrot-keeping witch! What species is Decibel? I have two black headed caiques, myself!

Lily, aka Witch Mom

Terraluna said...

When next porch parrot season comes around, you might want to take a look at some of the inexpensive kid/pet fences and gates available and fence off Decibel's space. It would discourage casual parrot-poking while allowing Decibel to socialize.

Maeve said...

I'm guessing that child needs more behavioral therapy, less soda, and monitored on the way to & from school. Her family and caregivers also probably need some classes or assistance of some kind.

In the end, we can't make adults get off the sofa and behave like responsible human beings.

Which really sucks when you are witness to some child's less-than-desirable circumstances.


Intense Guy said...

I agree with Alex P. 100%

She shouldn't be walking home alone.

Anne Johnson said...

Decibel is a chestnut-fronted macaw.

JaAnBe said...

This is not apropos to the post, but thought you might like it.

LJ said...

There is no way you could have guessed that the child in question had autism. And actually, with how kids are these days, I would have thought about a malicious one before a disabled one, too. I'm glad that it's sorted out, though. And I'm weirded out a bit by the fact that if the child has autism(my own son has autism as well) that she was walking home by herself. That's the overprotective me talking.....:/