Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ensnared by My Son's Imagination

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ensnared by My Son's Imagination

Article excerpt

My children know my weak spots. Begging for a Pokemon toy or a pack of Bubblicious at the check-out counter will be met with a swift and certain "no." But the child who trails me into a lumber store and asks for some chicken wire and a length of conduit, claiming it's for a "project," knows I'm a soft touch.

Back in the car, $14 poorer, I have the presence of mind to ask, "What project?"

Catching a pigeon, says 13-year-old Max.

Did I know, he asks, that you can tame a pigeon by tying a string to its leg?

I didn't even know we wanted to tame a pigeon, I tell him.

Max explains that after two days on a leash, the bird will consider our doorstep its new home and can be trusted to return to our stoop for the rest of its days. Or, if I'd prefer, Max offers earnestly, the feathered fellow could live in his bedroom. "I'd put newspaper under his cage, Mom."

When I scowl at the idea of domesticating fowl, he proposes less- sentimental reasons for procuring pigeons: donating them to our country neighbor's bird-dog training effort, cooking up a batch of squab soup, or selling them ($2) to his little brothers. Having unwittingly underwritten this project, I suggest catch-and-release, though all this bird-in-the-hand talk is somewhat premature.

The following day, a grinning Max presents me with a contraption of soldered conduit and gleaming chicken wire, the size of an end table. He tells me it could hold a dozen birds, as if this is good news. He highlights the beauty of his design (a cross between a grocery cart and a lobster trap), which includes a handle for tying the hoist rope. "Hoist" catches a mother's attention. Just where are these pigeons he plans to trap?

A half-mile down the road, atop Grandpa's 60-foot grain silo, he explains. I point out that there are far-more-accessible pigeons roosting under the creek bridge, or in the tractor shed. But Max snubs these birds. They are too close to the ground. It's as if I've offered a mountain climber a stroll on a treadmill. …

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