Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Taking it Away

A few hours before church started on Sunday, I was snuggling on the couch under a heavy blanket with my sick husband. After arresting a man with a cold, he'd come down with it. I'd kissed him when he came home from work, and then I got it. He was in the thick of it and I was at the start of it. There was nowhere we'd rather be than under a heavy blanket together, our herbal tea nearby.
We were so busy snuggling that we didn't hear our daughter sneak in the room, slide open the door to the bird cage, pull her bird out and take it back into her room with her. She's not supposed to take her bird in her room -she knew it... hence the sneaking.
Minutes later, we heard a wail from her room. My son came bolting out of their room and pronounced, "Her bird just DIED."

We flew out from under the blanket and rushed to our daughter's side. Her eyes were filled with tears, her hands were holding a limp blue parakeet.

 "Blue just DIED," she said, bawling. Blue had been very special to our family. My smarty-pants barely five year old had trained her all by herself. No one taught my daughter how to finger-train parakeets... she just figured it out. Within a few weeks, she had her bird hand-trained. She loved her bird. She played with it and talked to it -it was her favorite. It turns out that she thought it would be funny to SIT on her bird. She had no idea it would kill Blue... she was just trying to have some fun.

We sat as a family around the limp bird. And we all cried. My daughter cried because she was experiencing loss. The rest of us cried because someone we loved was hurting and it was REALLY hard to watch it and not be able to take it away.

My husband went into the city the next morning for a quick appointment, and he confessed that he'd almost stopped at Petco to buy a new bird.
"But we can't do that," he said, "She needs to experience this. It just sucks."
I agreed. But I think "it just sucks" is a gross understatement.

My daughter stayed up late Sunday night and talked with me.
"She was my own daughter," she said through tears, "and now I'm just so heartbroken!"
To hear a six year old say those words is heart-wrenching... seriously.

 "This must be how Heavenly Father feels, to some extent, when we make bad choices," my husband said after we'd finally convinced our daughter that her body needed some sleep, "He could have a hand in all of this -make sure bad things never happen to us as a result of our mistakes, but He doesn't. He respects our free agency."
My daughter is in the process of earning money to buy a new bird. I could buy one for her. In a matter of hours, I could put a brand new blue parakeet in our bird cage. But she needs to suffer the consequences of her actions. You can't SIT on a bird, suffocate it, and then get a new bird in the morning. It would be better to go through the emotions and natural consequences of the choices you've made and feel the PRIDE that comes from earning your way to a new bird. And so we must all earn our own way and feel the emotions and suffer the natural consequences... the ending result is worth it.

Over a year ago, my husband was listening to the Mormon Channel. He was taken in by a talk that discussed the differences between trials and afflictions. I wish I could find the talk -I've been looking for it for the longest time! In essence, the talk said that trials are what happen TO us... afflictions are what we happen to us as a RESULT of our choices.

 2 Nephi 2:2 says:
Nevertheless, Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

 It is so humbling to know that God will consecrate our AFFLICTIONS for our own gain. I wouldn't blame Him if He didn't -I've done some pretty ridiculous things, made some pretty bad choices that resulted in many afflictions.
And yet.
They've all been for my own gain, and for that: I'll be eternally grateful. I hope my little daughter can learn from this -she's so tender and beautiful. I want to mend her broken heart RIGHT AWAY. But I know she's learning and growing. To take that away would be doing her one of the greatest disservices as a parent.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I understand your ways little more today.


  1. So sorry about her bird:( I owned parakeets when I was little and my cat got to them. I feel for her.

    I love how you are having her earn a new bird. Responsibility for our actions is such a valuable lesson for all of us.

    D&C 122:7 "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

    Prayers and Hugs!

    1. I lost a parakeet to a cat too... my daughter said, "Your bird died. My bird died. We are twins now."
      Cute. And sad, haha.

  2. You are awesome parents! Lucky girl. Someday she'll look back on this and realize all the good things she learned from it. Bless you all!

    1. Thanks, Dan. I wish I could just take her pain away. Someday, I'm sorry to say, we'll all get a good laugh out of it... I mean, she SAT on her bird! On purpose! Crazy kid.

  3. Replies
    1. It's amazing how the gospel can turn so many sad things into beautiful things. We are blessed.

  4. I so rarely, rarely log into my 'anonymous' account -- but I did today, and I wanted to comment on everyone's blog how much I just love and adore you all! :-)

    What Michelle said, sad, but really beautiful. We are all learning so much . . .

    1. Love you too, lady! Good to hear from you :)

  5. this is the sweetest story. It hurts to lose what we love but i guess like you've said, we learn how to mend our hearts. How to sooth our pains and how to turn to our Father.

    1. We've definitely said a lot of prayers together -and she's been asking questions about death. It's been good, but I feel so bad for her!

  6. This is one lesson she'll not forget!! Thanks for sharing such a tender story, we can all relate!