All fledglings need to leave the nest eventually

COMMENT: Ask for ID - it’s better to be safe than sorry

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It will be a long time before my children leave home.

They are still reasonably young, unable to keep themselves fed and fragrant enough to be acceptable in public and certainly haven’t enough pocket money stowed away to put down a deposit on a flat, let alone a packet of Doctor Who game cards.

This is fine by me, although I would rather they weren’t still hanging around when I have retired.

The thought of them becoming like Timothy Lumsden, Ronnie Corbett’s character in the 1980s sitcom ‘Sorry,’ leaves me feeling cold.

Although I don’t think I could ever ‘push’ them out of the home, I do think that they sometimes need encouragement to become more independent.

The other day whilst in the garden, I was struck by a cacophony of noise which seemed to be blaring out in stereo around the vegetable beds.

On closer inspection, I noticed a tiny, fluffy, blue tit hopping around the broad beans.

As I got closer to it, it opened its mouth as wide as it could go, expecting me to deposit a tasty insect in its gaping maw.

Satisfied that I couldn’t offer him such a delicacy, he hopped away and I watched as its parent flew to the bird feeder, pecked at a bit of suet, then carefully fed it to the youngster.

I spent the next few days watching this family of blue tits going about their business. At one time there were four baby fledglings in the garden, all calling out, and all demanding the biggest, most choice morsel. The babies were of various sizes, but all from the same brood, the noisiest getting the most attention and the yummiest titbits.

This, I realised, was a reflection of what was going on inside the house with my own brood. My children, of various sizes, all clamour for my attention, often demanding food.

They are known to fight and bicker over who has the biggest piece of cake/most chocolatey biscuit/cheesiest cheese. And often it is the one who shouts loudest who gets it.

I rush around gathering food from the shelves of Sainsbury’s, ascertaining the best available treats for the least money, and as the car draws up outside the house, the children pretend to want to carry the bags in when in reality all they want to do is tear through the shopping like termites, making sure that they get the best bits.

I remain resolutely stoic and continue to pander to their nutritional requests (within reason) until I collapse on the sofa and pander to my own needs. Surely the children should be able to fend for themselves by now?

‘Will you chop this apple up for me please?’ is a familiar cry. Or ‘What can I eat?’

I once made the mistake of telling them that they should help themselves to whatever was in the kitchen but the resulting mess was enough to send me reeling.

It seems that getting the balance between pandering to their needs and independence is a tricky thing to attain.

I think that I need to be more attentive and help equip them with the skills to fend for themselves, to buy and cook their own food and to give them the confidence to fly the nest.

Just not quite yet.