Memo: To Parker & Pepper
Dept: African Greys
Subject: Brainy Grey
I recently purchased a new toy for you two. Pepper, you don’t seem to care much for it, but Parker, you have developed quite an interest. It’s called a "Brainy Baby” and you love to play with it — especially when I’m trying to work on an article or editing a column. While I am sure you find it enriching and engaging, you have no idea how unnerving it is to listen to you punch all the buttons, so its whirring, trilling, lighting up and yakking up a storm at you when I am trying to polish a writing piece, such as about my time spent working at the Cincinnati Zoo.
I think it’s wonderful that you find learning your shapes so engaging; however, I keep hearing, "Square. A square has four sides. Square. A square has four sides. Square. A square has four sides.” Can we move on to another button? You’ve been hitting that button so often, I’ve begun to take dictation, and I can assure you that most of our readers already know their shapes.
Then there is the dreaded silence. I hate that because I know you’re up to something. Your Brainy Baby even misses you and says, "Hey, Brainy Baby; where did you go?” That’s when I have to get up and hunt you down, usually locating you in the kitchen trying to tip over Mattie’s water bowl, or in the bathroom attempting to climb the shower stall door. If you don’t knock off all of this exploring, one of these days you’re going to take a header right into the toilet. I’ve finally gotten into the habit of keeping the lid to the toilets down, so I’m confident you won’t be earning your water wings any time soon but, nevertheless, I’d hate to see you fall.
Parker, I know you enjoy playing with your Brainy Baby; however, I’m discovering that keeping it on top of your cage is proving to be an issue, what with you climbing down to explore our semi-lovely home. Brainy Baby ended up there because, upon your first introduction to it, the first thing you did was chew through the plastic straps designed to secure it. Parker, those straps were meant for anchoring it so you could play with it. You aren’t supposed to chew on them! Will you never lose your taste for soft plastic?
I purchased the Brainy Baby for you so you would have an enriching toy to play with, and I was hoping it would replace some of the "Trans-Condo Exploring” you’ve developed an interest in lately. Was it the documentary on Lewis and Clark, by filmmaker Ken Burns, that sparked this sudden interest in these grand tours of yours? Unless I put the Brainy Baby behind the toilet in the hall bathroom, or dangling from the top of the shower stall door, I’m afraid it’ll never get your attention again.
Perhaps I should move it to a safe spot on your playgym. The expression, "No man is an island” has taken on new meaning in this case, because when I position your playgym correctly, I know you can’t leap off of it onto something else. You can’t shimmy down and poke around our home pretending you are Lewis (or Clark ...) crossing the country to the Pacific. Instead, you are safely planted on your gym surrounded by nothing but air, making you safe and secure on your own "Parrot Island.” Just something to consider.
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