I recently read a post with the words “The boys in my world are tender…” and, like some words do, they stuck in my head.
The boys in my world are tender, too. They are only 15 months old.
They like to watch little sparrows and plump pigeons search for food in the grassy green patches of our residential area. Some of the pigeons are white ones and my boys are enchanted by their feathery footsteps and bouncy little jumps.
When we go for a walk, we often stop for a good 15 minutes to admire birds if the weather is nice. We’re in no hurry, we’re getting fresh air.
Then we continue our walk, the boys tucked tightly in their stroller, not complaining because as twins, they haven’t yet known the luxury of running around freely on the pavement next to cars and the sea. They don’t know of the things “singletons” their age get up to. Having just learned to walk, outdoors, they are too hard to watch by myself at this stage.
This phase will pass, I think, it’s not a big deal. They’re starting daycare in a few weeks and then they’ll have all the same experiences as everyone else. The exact same ones – for better or for worse.
At home, the boys run free. They literally run and their foreheads are decorated with bruises. When we go out, they simply sit calmly and happily in their stroller and enjoy the scenery.
They are alert and notice everything. They wave at people. Some people wave back. They point at trams. They love dogs – and they are in luck, too, because dog walkers are everywhere.
Sometimes the owners stop and chat with us. Once, a lady made her dog perform little tricks for us.
We go swinging sometimes but after 10 minutes, one of them will want to leave. He’ll have spotted a dog somewhere in the distance and would rather return to the stroller so we can catch up before the dog disappears.
Some grown-ups enjoy people-watching. My boys enjoy bird-and-dog-watching.
But one day, I was walking the same route alone, without my little ones. I passed the spot where the pigeons hang out and I noticed two older boys running around and shouting aggressively.
They were throwing sticks and stones at the pigeons.
The same pigeons my little boys so love to admire sweetly from a distance, always so excited at the sight of these everyday creatures, the most overlooked kind of all birds, almost invisible to so many of us. Their innocent gaze sees nothing detestable, nothing unlovable in these pigeons.
I stopped, not knowing what to think. I felt assaulted. Like someone had stepped into my happy place uninvited and destroyed it.
Is this a normal phase all boys go through when they grow up? A rite of passage between childhood and teenage?
Or are these eight-year-olds bullies? What else (or who else) do they bully besides these poor pigeons?
The next day, out and about with my little ones again, the bullies were gone. But their shadows were lurking in the back of my mind. What happens when we stop seeing the beauty of pigeons?