A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME
One day she looked out of the bedroom window and saw Jimmy throwing stones over the fence into the adjacent parking area next door. His sister was swaying back and forth on the swing set and did not notice his misbehavior. Soon he tired of this ‘sport’, and went back to the sandbox, heaping mounds of sand for his toy cars to run through; typical boy stuff.
Margret could have easily called him into the house and admonished him for throwing stones; however, she had a more intriguing idea. Jimmy was very bright; innocent and trusting, but he was only four years old without a malicious bone in his body. He had no idea what he did was wrong. He did, however, possess a wonderful imagination and regularly talked to his blue cloth dog his grandmother made for him. He named the dog, ‘Bluey’, and slept with his arms firmly holding his imaginary friend. Jimmy was a sensitive child with a beguiling nature, full of life and Margret could see no harm letting him use his wonderful resourcefulness to sort out this little incident without her help.
Soon it was time for the children to climb the stairs to the upper porch, where they sat on a large bench, washing their hands in a pail of water before dinner. A pail of warm water may have seemed odd to the neighbors, but the kitchen sink was quite high and hard for Margret’s small children to reach. She usually helped clean dirty hands and passed a soft cloth over each face, sometimes causing giggles as she washed behind ears full of sand. A bath would come later, before bed, refreshing their little bodies for a good night’s sleep.
If Margret’s husband, Vic, was not home, which often happened at dinner time and when the other tenets were not using the space, she would bring food outside and the three of them would sit on the porch floor, using the bench as a table.
An old set of doll dishes with cups, saucers and silverware and a small-checkered tablecloth, with napkins to match, made it seem especially festive for this loving family.
Both children loved the thought of living in a tent, fishing for supper and living among trees. The three of them discussed this same desire many times during the ‘eat-outs.’ Each missed the trees around their former country home. There were no trees in this concrete paved town.
The food was never in question. The children would eat anything served on the doll dishes, even Brussel sprouts. The small teapot, filled with real tea, absolutely delighted Jimmy. He had a slight lisp and could not pronounce his tees. He would clap his hands together with such joy and shout, “pea party, pea party”. Even today, it is one of her fondest memories.
After dinner that evening Tina, cleared the bench while Margret took Jimmy aside to talk to him about throwing stones over the fence. His eyes opened wide and she could sense the punishment he expected for this small misdeed. He put his head down as if to think, then put his hands on his hips and asked his mom how she knew he was throwing stones. He was questioning the idea that someone was watching him. He knew it was not his sister since they came from the play area to the table together. His face grew somber as thoughts filled his mind. He stood there staunchly, waiting for an answer.
“Oh,” said his mom quite innocently, “a little bird told me.”