Memo: To Parker & Pepper
Dept: African Greys
Subject: A Parrot Person’s Prayer
Parker and Pepper, I want you to listen for a minute. There are moments when living with you two is trying. During those times when I lose my composure, I recite this prayer. I want you to understand that I have not gone "around the bend” just a tad, nor have I gone completely crackers. It’s just that every now and then, I need the strength to get through the day when I don’t think I can even get through the next minute.
Sometimes this helps:
Dear Superior Upper Management,
Help me get through this day without getting mad at my parrots again. Allow me my usual sense of humor when Pepper decides to take a stroll to the kitchen and begins industriously chewing away at the corner of the flooring until there is nothing left but 4-square inches of linoleum chips. Let me not despair when Parker decides that, rather than eat breakfast with his usual gusto, he’d hop up and stomp around on the top of the zebra finch cage, causing Matthew, Mark, Luke and Joan to all practically have a stroke.
Comfort me when both greys are on the front porch and, upon discovering that I have parked their shared playstand within chewing distance of the screen, they think to themselves: "Wouldn’t it be neat if we made this screen look like Swiss cheese?” Help me locate a professional who has the courage to replace a porch screen five floors up.
Grant me patience when Parker, who usually eats like a sumo wrestler before I go to work, decides he is not going to eat for two days, and doesn’t, except of course for almonds, sesame sticks or imported Icelandic yogurt.
Grant me tolerance when, after I have just changed my clothes and have planned a rare night out, Pepper decides to crawl up on my knee and poop on my new, white dress pants.
Give me the wisdom to simply sigh when I find a down feather floating in my coffee and a flax seed jammed between my teeth.
Bless my vacuum cleaner, Jaws, and give him the strength to suck up almond shells, toy parts, carrot shreds, food pellets, broccoli stems, dried parrot poop and bits of wood for another six months, as the next vacuum cleaner will be my third replacement in eight years. Keep Jaws safe, strong and free of that hideous compost pile odor.
Give me wisdom when training Parker to perform a new trick.
Help me recall what I learned in Susan Friedman’s class, "LLP:
Living and Learning With Parrots,” and Barbara Heidenreich’s training DVDs. Make
"You get what you reinforce” my mantra.
Remind me that Parker didn’t mean to hurt me when, upon losing his balance on my shoulder, grabbed my earlobe and hung there, swinging like someone’s oversized earring at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Most of all, remind me that the reason I have parrots in my life is because they are so darned much fun and a joy to care for, especially when I am cleaning those battlefields at the bottoms of their cages and scraping mango off the tile.
Lastly, give me the courage to clean up, without losing my lunch, that rotten piece of black banana Parker stuffed into a foraging toy. I never noticed, and it remained hidden there until I discovered it four days later. It was unrecognizable. God bless my birds, and God help me. Amen.
Read more "Memos to Parker & Pepper" here.