Chirp

by Kelly J. Carey

“Look how big that stick is,” John said as he watched a robin outside his bedroom window.

Mom spread a clean sheet over John’s bed.

“She’s working hard to build her nest,” Mom said.

“I’ve been watching her for days,” John said. The robin chirped and flew off. “She’s finding twigs, string and hay.”

“She’s getting ready to lay eggs,” Mom said. “She wants a nice home for her little ones.”

John looked at Mom as she shook his pillow into a clean pillowcase and fluffed it onto his bed.

“Just like you, right, Mom?” John said.

“Just like me,” Mom said.

At sunset a few days later, John checked on the robin. She was sitting on three bright blue eggs.

Mom walked into his room to tuck him into bed.

“The robin hardly ever leaves the eggs,” John said.

“She wants to make sure her little ones are safe and warm,” Mom said, tucking John’s favorite blanket over him.

“Just like you, right, Mom?”

“Just like me,” Mom said.

Two weeks passed. Now three little birds peeped and chirped in the nest. John found pieces of blue eggs under the tree and put them in his treasure box.

“Why do the baby birds chirp so loud?” John asked.

“They’re hungry,” Mom said. They watched as the mother robin flew in with food. “Growing babies are always hungry.”

“Did I make that much noise when I was little?” John asked.

“Sometimes more.” Mom laughed.

“Didn’t it give you a headache?”

“Sometimes,” Mom said. “But you’re worth it.”

The mother robin flew away. The baby birds kept making noise.

“Why are they chirping now?” John asked.

“They’re saying thank you,” Mom said.

“Chirp,” John said, looking at Mom.

“You’re welcome,” Mom said.

The little birds started to grow feathers and flop around the nest. John found two feathers under the tree. He tucked them into his treasure chest beside the blue eggshells.

The little birds were quieter now, but they still needed a lot of food.

At the grocery store, John watched Mom push a cart to the checkout line. “Hey, Mom, you get food for our family, just like the robin!”

“And I even cook it before giving it to you!” Mom said.

“Chirp,” John said.

When they got home, John noticed two of the babies had hopped out of the nest.

“Mom,” John called, “the baby birds are walking on the tree branch.”

“Now the babies are called fledglings,” Mom said.

The mother robin fluttered around her fledglings. They chirped at her.

“Now why are they chirping?” John asked.

“They’re telling the mommy robin that they love her,” Mom said.

One of the fledglings tried flapping its wings. The mother bird flew even closer.

“The mommy robin must be worried,” John said. “Do you ever worry about me?”

“Yes,” Mom said.

Then to say thank you and I love you, John said, “Chirp.”

Mom smiled. “I love you, too,” she said.

Four days later, only one fledgling still lived in the nest.

“What happened to the other two?” John asked.

“They got strong enough to fly off,” Mom said.

“Will they come back?” John asked.

“No.”

“That’s sad,” John said. “I won’t ever fly off.”

“Not even if you get a chance to live on the moon?” Mom asked. She held up a picture John had drawn of his house on the moon.

“Would you be sad?” John said.

“Yes,” Mom said. “But I’d also be excited that you had grown up smart and strong and were having a wonderful adventure.”

And since thank you and I love you didn’t seem like enough to say, John said, “Chirp.”

Two weeks later, the nest had been empty for five days. The baby birds were gone. The mother robin had left. John poked the nest with his hockey stick until it fell to the ground. He put the nest in his treasure chest with the feathers and blue eggshells.

That Sunday, John had a special surprise for Mom.

“I love it!” Mom said when she saw the nest. John had sprinkled it with glitter and carefully glued the blue eggshells and feathers inside.

“I know you work just as hard as that mother robin to take care of me,” John said.

“Chirp,” Mom said.

“Chirp,” John replied.

This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Illustrations © Valeria Docampo.