Owl Babies

The D-Train #39

Once there were three baby owls:

Sarah and Percy and Bill.

They lived in a hole

In the trunk of a tree

With their Owl Mother.

The hole had twigs and leaves and owl feathers in it.

It was their house.

One night they woke up and

Their Owl Mother was GONE.

“Where’s Mommy?” asked Sarah.

“Oh my goodness!” said Percy.

“I want my mommy!” said Bill.

My youngest son, Jack, turned two in May. By age two, my older son was conversational, speaking in full sentences, babbling non-stop to anyone who would listen. Strangers commented all the time about how clearly he spoke for such a young child. My younger son, Jack, is a more physical kid. He runs, he climbs, he throws balls, he hurtles his body into every situation with fearless abandon. He falls down and jumps right back up beaming “Ok mommy, ok!” He’s seemingly indestructible, but talking is not his forte. He does an ok job communicating what he wants, but you have to learn to speak his language. Jack doesn’t eat yogurt, he eats ooty. He loves to drink those little squeezie pouches for toddlers, but inexplicably he calls them apples. In quarantine, we have taken to FaceTiming with Grandma a lot. Now every night Jackie points at my phone and says Namas? For a solid week, Jack cried and pounded his fists in frustration, begging for “happy tooey.” My older son and I tried in vain to figure out what happy tooey could be. We held up object after object – is a cheese stick happy tooey? A cookie? A fire truck? The dog? Poor Jack was so angry that he didn’t have the words to express what he wanted, until finally one morning I turned on some music, and there it was – If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands. Jack clapped his hands in utter delight, singing. I was relieved – ahh, Happy Tooey, we finally found you.

You can imagine my surprise when one night a couple of months ago, he looked at me and said two words very clearly – “Owl Babies?”

The baby owls thought

(All owls think a lot) –

“I think she’s gone hunting,” said Sarah.

“To get us our food!” said Percy.

“I want my mommy!” said Bill.

I asked my older son, did he just ask for Owl Babies? It’s a children’s book that we have, although I had not read it to Jack for months. Since he wasn’t even two years old yet, there was no way he could remember it. My older son said, oh yeah, he loves that book. He reads it at my dad’s place.

I got down my copy from the bookshelf and Jack settled happily into my lap. I began to read.

But their Owl Mother didn’t come.

The baby owls came out of

Their house, and they sat on the tree and waited.

A big branch for Sarah,

A small branch for Percy,

And an old piece of ivy for Bill.

“She’ll be back,” said Sarah.

“Back soon!” said Percy.

“I want my mommy!” said Bill.

I’m guessing that my ex doesn’t have a ton of children’s books at his apartment. I was always the one to pick out the books, and to read the bedtime stories. To be honest, I was impressed that he was reading anything to them at all.

But why Owl Babies of all books? 

It was dark in the wood and they

had to be brave, for things moved

all around them.

“She’ll bring us mice and things

that are nice,” said Sarah.

“I suppose so!” said Percy.

“I want my mommy!” said Bill.

They sat and they thought (all owls think a lot) –

“I think we should all sit on my branch,”

said Sarah. And they did,

all three together.

Jack still has never asked me for another book by name. He’ll take down other books off the shelf and bring them to me, asking “lap?” But Owl Babies is the one he asks for by name. He sits quietly for it, looking content. He has clearly had it read to him a lot. Perhaps it’s just that my ex only has one or two books for him at his apartment so they do this one a lot. Or perhaps it’s something else. 

Suppose she got lost,” said Sarah.

“Or a fox got her!” said Percy.

“I want my mommy!” said Bill.

And the baby owls closed

their owl eyes and wished their

Owl Mother would come.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve given a lot of thought to the question of why my ex is reading this particular story to the kids all the time. Did he buy it on purpose, perhaps at the suggestion of a family member or friend, when he told them how much the kids were missing me? Was the purchase the result of a google search – how do I comfort a toddler after he’s been inexplicably ripped away from his mother for days on end during a prolonged custody battle of my own making? Or did my ex buy it at a yard sale, having no idea the content? Maybe he received it as a hand-me-down from someone feeling bad for the kids? If he didn’t get this book on purpose for them, did he notice at all what it is about? Does it tear him apart each time? Does it nearly double him over like receiving a hot poker to the belly with the knowledge of what he did? Or does it pass right above his head, just words in a children’s book, with no meaning at all? 

AND SHE CAME.

Soft and silent,

she swooped through the trees

to Sarah and Percy and Bill.

“Mommy!” they cried,

and they flapped and they danced,

and they bounced up and down

on their branch.

“WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS?”

their Owl Mother asked.

“You knew I’d come back.”

The baby owls thought

(all owls think a lot) – 

“I knew it,” said Sarah.

“And I knew it!” said Percy.

“I love my mommy!” said Bill.

Love,

Amy Blair

p.s. Last week I wrote about throwing in the towel in my divorce. I haven’t done anything yet, but I think I’m nearing the end of this battle. More and more, not being married to this man anymore feels like it would be the biggest win of all. Anyway, we’ll see.

In the meantime, I can’t get this song out of my head this week, which is both terrible and wonderful. 

Also, listen to The D-Train, The Playlist, a soundtrack for a shit show.