Monday, March 12, 2007

Birdwatching at Sherman Park

Dawn and I went to Sherman Park after school let out today. I was taking a break from housecleaning and freelance work, and stopped to talk to her mom. She told me Dawn cut school this morning to take a walk. She was home and wanted to go ouside Her mother asked if I would mind if she came with me. Of course I didn't mind, so out she came, still a little red-faced from crying.

We stopped by Su Casa and then went all the way over to Sherman Elementary at 51st and Morgan because I wanted to know what it looked like. They have a nice new playground--some kids were hanging around after school playing on it. Some of the kids sounded very rough--there was a lot of really foul cursing among kids who looked to be between eight and 10 years old. "Those teachers have their work cut out for them," I said to Dawn.

After we walked for a while and talked about nothing important, I asked what happened today. It was really what happened over the weekend--more struggles about free time and independence with her parents. I think she just felt trapped and decided to take a walk when she could take one more easily than she had over the weekend. It was also clear she felt like she was on top of her schoolwork--I didn't even try to take that one on right now. But she felt bad and was worrying that this would all hook back into problems last summer. We talked, walked around, got to the park, talked. Shortly after we got into the park itself, I stopped and looked at her and said, "I think maybe the most important thing here is that you forgive yourself for what happened last summer and let go of it. If you really believe that you have a clean slate, that might change things."

I saw in her face that she got what I was saying. I hope that sticks.

We saw quite a few interesting birds. Three red-winged blackbirds, who stood out strongly against the cattails and tall grass. And we saw parakeets! Apparently some have moved west of Jackson Park--we spotted three large nests, one with seven or eight squawking about. There was only one pair of mallards. Dawn was interested to know the male is the pretty one and mallard ducks mate for life. We also saw a male and female cardinal--another pair where the male gets the pretty colors. But Dawn asked me how to tell the difference between a male and a female Canada goose and I was stumped! If you know, please comment.

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