Recently my husband and I enjoyed watching an Andy Griffith episode on Netflix entitled “Opie the Bird Man.” (Season 4, episode 1, 1963) Opie got himself into a jam when he accidentally shot a mother bird with his new slingshot. And soon poor Opie realizes there are three baby birds now abandoned in the nest. But with new courage and trying to make things right with his horrible blunder, Opie becomes a surrogate mother to the little birds. Nestling the little creatures into a bird cage, Opie sets out to gather worms as he cares for his new babies. He takes great pride in his successful endeavors. But Opie becomes quite anxious when his pa prepares him that It’s time to let the growing birds out of the cage so they can fly away. Opie becomes worried and sad. He tenderly cups each bird in one hand before upwardly throwing them into the air, shouting, “please fly, please fly.”
Over the next few days, I thought about Opie’s courage to let the little birds fly away. And it made me think about how we parents invest our love and our hearts into our children, preparing them for the future, preparing them to be independent. We worry, we are sad, but we know it’s time to let them “fly” into the world. And I don’t believe the preparing of children to become independent young adults only lies with the parents. I believe this groundwork and influence falls upon all adults—grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, pastors, teachers, babysitters, coaches, club leaders, and so many others.
Whenever we demonstrate honesty by taking an item to lost and found instead of keeping it, we are training children to be honest adults. When we hold the door open for others, we are influencing children to have good manners. When we pick up clothing items we try on in dressing rooms instead of leaving them on the floor, we are encouraging tidiness and respect for the store. When we are not texting when driving, our example to children says safety behind the wheel is imperative. When we are not cussing, children will choose their words more carefully when they are older. When we are not taking a Walmart basket home to keep for personal use, children will understand that stealing is wrong.
As adults, we are always training and grounding children within our sphere of influence. Our actions and behaviors today will create memories for tomorrow in our children when it’s time for them to fly away. And let’s hope the memories are positive ones for the new “baby birds” to emulate.
What are some other ways we can influence the generations after us for the good of mankind? I would enjoy hearing your ideas.