This is a great time of year, when you can sit on the porch in the morning, drink your tea (coffee if you are my husband) and listen to the birds singing from all the trees that line the gully.
All those birds singing did bring back memories of “The Bird Test”. My sons will know exactly what I am referring to when they read those words.
When our boys turned 10 they received their Daisy Red Ryder BB guns for their birthday present. This was a huge rite of passage in our household. In our home, guns were not and have never been treated as toys. They are tools to be used and respected.
I have a feeling the kids could still repeat the words their dad told them, “NEVER point a gun at something unless you intend to kill it. If you do need to kill something, do it quickly…you will NOT let it suffer. A gun is NOT a toy.” Actually, our boys did not own toy guns for this very reason. They did however use any stick, vegetable and fruit in place of a toy gun.
Back to the bird test. Our sons had taken their BB guns out to do a little shooting. They were allowed to shoot starlings and sparrows as they would fly from hog farm to hog farm and possibly spread disease. The boys came in, all excited that one of them had gotten a bird. When my husband saw the bird he was not impressed. They had shot a wren. They tried to use ignorance as an excuse.
My husband decided to make the punishment fit the crime. The Red Ryders were confiscated and the bird books were hauled out. The boys needed to study the local songbirds and be able to identify and draw a dozen of them. They also needed to know what colors they were and what their silhouettes looked like.
There would be no way they could plead ignorance in the future. Once they had accomplished this they were allowed to have their BB guns again. It took them awhile, but to this day they can identify the common songbirds we have in our area. To my knowledge, they never did shoot another songbird.
The BB guns were great sources of fun for our kids. They spent hours plinking cans, trying to shoot leaves off the trees and making targets to practice on. Unfortunately, they did share their weapon with their little brother before he owned one himself.
When a 6 year old has never shot a BB gun, they should not attempt to hit a sparrow that is sitting on the top of your car. After a trip to the local Auto Salvage yard and dismantling the drivers’ side door, we once again had a window in place. This may also explain why we were missing window panes in the barn.
At this phase in our lives, our windows are safe and the song birds can sing freely without the fear of a BB coming their way. I cannot guarantee it will stay that way once the grandkids turn 10, and are inducted into the world of the Daisy Red Ryder.
It will be interesting to see what our grandkids haul off. It will also be interesting to see if the Bird Test will need to be repeated and become a family tradition.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old
they will not turn from it.
New International Version