Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Which We Birdwatch, And I Get Ticked At Some Other Lady

Today Connor and I took a trip to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to do some birdwatching!  Our theme for this week is birds, so I thought it would be appropriate. 

Unfortunately, in order to see birds you have to be very quiet.

And Connor was actually not the problem.  He and I had a discussion about birdwatching before we got out of the car and started down the mile-long (wheelchair accessible) trail, and he knew that you had to be very quiet to get to see the birds.  So he was behaving beautifully; I was very proud of him.  Unfortunately, the woman who started down the trail directly behind us had not given the same instructions to her four children, who so far as I could tell had absolutely no excuses for not being quiet.  They were screaming, fighting with each other, jumping up and down on the boardwalk, throwing things off the side of the railing, and running all over the place.  So far as I could tell the mom simply decided that this would be a good place for a picnic and wasn't actually trying to see any wildlife at all, but the lack of common courtesy towards everybody else on the trail that was obviously trying to birdwatch was kind of stunning.

And I figure that I'm way, waaaay more tolerant than the average person about this sort of thing, because I have the kid who screams at the top of his lungs in the middle of restaurants and whatnot.  He actually did that later in the day when it was getting close to naptime; I'm pretty sure he shattered the eardrums of a number of very gracious people in the Urban Onion where we ate lunch.  So I try to subscribe to the "judge not" philosophy, because we get judged ourselves pretty often.  But really-- so far as I could tell these were completely developmentally on-track children, and their mom was simply making no effort at all to corral their behavior.  This sort of thing drives me nuts; and it was especially frustrating when Connor was making such an effort to be quiet, because believe me, it doesn't come easily to him. 

They effectively scared off any wildlife within about a 200 yard radius, much to my and all of the serious birdwatchers (of which there were at least two dozen of on the trail--you know, the type with the high-powered binoculars and the gigantic camera zoom lenses) chagrin.  They were also starting to rile Connor up, as he doesn't react to loud and rambunctious kids very well.  The little guy and I sat down on a bench and let the crew scream their way past us.  After about ten minutes of waiting the birdsong started up again, and this curious squirrel came down to see what we were up to.  He sat and talked to us from only a couple of feet away, much to Connor's delight.  He wasn't exactly a bird, but by this point any wildlife was good wildlife as we'd been half a mile down the trail and, thanks to the screamers, had seen exactly one robin. 

We had better luck after that; neat birds we saw included various types of warblers, sparrows, swallows, finches, bushtits, hummingbirds, shorebirds, and even a Great Horned Owl, who was cozied up in the hollow of a tree.  We also saw a rather large raccoon who was draped out over a branch snoozing in the sun.  So we got the chance to learn quite a bit about the habitats of different birds, and Connor even got an impromptu lesson in birdwatching from a nice elderly gentleman out on the trail.

So despite a rough start, all in all it was a pretty great trip! 



Mary said...

Gah! Awesome squirrel picture. He's totally posing.

Anonymous said...

Perfect mothers and children do not exist. Shame on you!

Jess said...

I'm going to assume this comment was a joke, because I'm pretty sure no one who reads my blog would think I'm trying to make myself out as a perfect mom.

I write about poop explosions waaaaaaaaay too much for that.

But seriously; there is a difference between a mom not having a good day or something, and a mom blatently ignoring her typically developing children's bad behavior-- and in this case, modeling bad behavior, as she was just as loud as her kids. There are about eight hundred different parks and wildlife areas this woman had to choose from to bring her children to that didn't have large groups of birdwatchers and naturalists attempting to look at the native wildlife; which was the whole point of the trail.

Um, but anyway, yeah. Joke. Poop explosions. Something.

Mary said...

The phrase "Shame on you!" never fails to make me giggle a little bit, when used seriously. Shame on you, Jessie! Oh, the lulz.

Anonymous said...

Maybe she no the English read. No know it for quiet birds, this woman with children screaming?

Jess said...

Oh, judging by the way she was talking on her cell phone, I'm pretty sure she "the English read."

Connor and I, along with the other birdwatchers on the trail, learned her name, her kid's names and ages, what color dress she was considering wearing to her friend's wedding, that she was considering getting foils but was going to have to put them on her credit card and that her eleven year old daughter was "letting herself go" and wanted a training bra but wasn't going to get one because there "wasn't anything there to train." Much to her eleven year old's mortification.

When Connor and I found the lone brave turtle out on the pond who had stayed out after this verbal assault and her six year old boy threw a rock at it, her response was "Good throw, (little kid's name)! You almost hit it!"

I repeatedly told her that she and her kids could go ahead of us, to which she replied that they were fine, they "wanted to learn some sign language."

The final straw came when her six year old noticed Connor drooling and asked about it. She told her sister to hang on, and then yelled at the boy to "get away from him." Then she hussled her kids down the trail after telling me "Sorry. I didn't realize he was like that."

I didn't really want to get into all of that as I wanted to focus on the birds. So I just said she was rude. But yeah, she spoke English. It probably would have been better if she hadn't.

Anonymous said...

When I wrote the comment I was seriously dissapointed in your post. I was drawn to your blog because I was so in awe of your ability to remain so positive in light of your life circumstances but not when you dump on another mom... especially when you wrote as far as you could tell her children were healthy. Would you have reacted differently if they were not? Would you have accepted them and their behavior if they did have some sort of disabilty? It was written and implied in your post. That is why I wrote "Shame on you". It's your blog but not all who read it have children with disabilities and maybe need to be reminded of that.


Jess said...


I'm certainly sorry that I offended you with my post. It wasn't intentional.

I pointed out that she had typically developing children because yes, if her children had some sort of major cognitive (not physical) delay or had been young enough to not know better, I certainly would not have been irritated with their behavior because they could not be reasonably expected to behave-- something I do expect to see from a pair of eleven year olds, a six year old and a four year old. It wasn't intended to be a slur against all moms with typically developing children.

For that matter, this woman would have been irritating whether or not she had kids with her. She was talking loudly on her cellphone in the middle of a nature trail about her hair. Right behind a guided birdwatching tour, I might add, who were waaaaaaay more ticked with her than I was. The poor tour guide (the nice man who gave Connor a lesson in birdwatching later) actually came over to try and ask her to quiet down, but she held up her finger, pointed to her cell phone, and actually shushed him.

I consider this blog to be something of a personal journal-- it was originally started to keep my family and friends informed about what Connor has been up to, and it has sort of morphed from there. I'm glad that you think I have a mostly positive outlook; I'd like to think I do too.

But there are times when I'm not always going to be quite so sunny, and this was one of them. That experience colored the whole field trip, and it was impossible to write about it without at least mentioning her, though I tried to keep it relatively nonspecific; something that I've totally blown writing about it in the comments. Oh well.

I'm writing for myself just as much as I am for anyone else, and sometimes I just need to vent!


Julia O'C said...

I don't think anyone is asking for perfect parenting, only considerate parenting (regardless of disabilities).

I LOVE that squirrel picture!!!

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