I woke up this morning humming “We are the World”--the old-school 80's version. I’m not sure why the tune greeted me this morning, but it put in me in a rather contemplative mood. As I pondered some heavy topics, I found myself drifting to a little tale that actually takes place in my own household.
You see, there is a very old Springer Spaniel named Lucy and a very young parakeet named Daffodil. Both are loved by a family. Sometimes, though, the family is gone for a stretch, leaving the pets alone together. Because the parakeet has made it clear that she prefers to be where the action is, her cage spends most days on the coffee table in the front room. Lucy, the dog, is almost always keeping watch in the bay window in that same room. The lonely times spent together apparently brought these two creatures closer than the family realized. It was not until the family took Daffodil to get her wings clipped and let her out of the cage that the family saw how much Lucy and Daffodil meant to each other. The bird was skittish around the humans, but immediately went to the dog in the bay window. The dog did not mind. She allowed her feathered friend to sit very close to her. The two sat together for over an hour. Each time Daffodil is brought out of the cage, the dog and the bird stay together. They have a special bond.
I’ve seen this play out at school as well. Whether it’s the tallest boy who is BFFs with the shortest boy in the class, or the little girl in her frilliest pink tutu rocking out a serious enactment of “Star Wars” with the boys on the playground, children tend to find commonalities in many different fellow beings. That is, until we adults get a hold of them. I caught myself at one point asking my daughter why she doesn’t play with this girl or that girl. I found myself concerned that she only played with the kids I saw as outcasts. I saw this girl and that girl as the mainstream kids and was unnerved by the prospect that perhaps my child was an outcast herself. My daughter matter-of-factly answered, “I like my friends.” In that moment, I realized there was no room for my adult worries. My child was not just fine, she was happy.
We could all take a cue from Lucy and Daffodil and our children. Despite the presence of fur or absence of feathers, despite our perceived differences, we do have things in common. If Quincy Jones can get Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan in the same room singing the same song, we too can find common ground with those who might seem very different.