There is a mockingbird that likes to perch outside my bedroom door each morning and squawk mightily. This, despite that it’s 6 am and, due to the pandemic, I can sleep in. This bird does not care.
I noticed that on some mornings, I am grateful and happy to hear the bird.
Other mornings, I am annoyed and flirt with the idea of shooing it away.
Same bird. Same noise. Same time.
This proverb has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545 William Turner used a version of it in his papist satire The Rescuing of Romish Fox:
“Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”
Quentin Tarantino realized he needed to leave his flock as a young adult. He was working in a video store (remember those?) and enjoying the benefits of watching movies, which were his passion. His co-workers were also making minimum wage, but he knew he was the smartest one among them. This made him feel comfortable – for three years – where he admits he “lost all ambition.” And then he woke up. He didn’t want to be an elderly man working in a video store, talking about movies. He wanted to MAKE them. So he had to leave his flock.
And he did.
One morning, Day 6 of our Walkout, one of my teenage daughters told me she was going out to breakfast with her boyfriend. She’d been out a lot that week: There were pre-prom activities, “The Prom,” and then post-prom outings.
As a recovering Tiger Mom, I’ve bitten my tongue when I want to
ask about tell her to do her schoolwork. I’ve backed off (been over a year now), because I wanted to go from Tiger (ferocious and unforgiving) to Owl (wise and patient).
Since my own transformation, her grades have improved dramatically (4.1 GPA), she’s obtained her driving
permitlicense, played violin at All-State and she’s noticeably happier.
But that morning, I voiced concern about her responsibilities. Inwardly, I judged her social calendar. She’s going out too much. She’s not working hard enough. How will she get a college scholarship?
Do you hear the fear?
Her smiling face turned dark. “I’m communicating to you my plans. Why do you want to pick a fight?”
answered confessed, “I am struggling inwardly. I know I should not say this. You know what? I trust that you know what you need to do and that you will do it.” Ah! Good catch!
And we were fine.
I chose love over fear.
People (who are “people” anyway?) might argue: “You are her parent. It’s your job to get on her about her responsibilities. You can’t let her run all over you like that.” But she’s not running all over me. She’s living her life. She is her own person and she knows what she’s doing. She’s not putting herself in danger. She’s not putting others in danger. I would say (and do) something if that was the case.
Too many Tiger Parents make the same mistakes over and over again. They communicate to their children that the outside is more important than the inside: grades, colleges and achievements are more important than knowing who you really are…more important than having fun with friends and learning how to navigate social waters. I’ve had several 5th and 6th grade students cry and tell me that they are receiving oppressive pressure at home.
Thus, I continue to choose love over fear. It’s challenging at times. Fear can look like caring, or “good parenting” or “discipline.” But it doesn’t feel quite right. Love always feels true.