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Sitting in the sun recently, I spied a bird of a variety I couldn’t recognize sitting on the patio. He was very still and it was only by getting close that I could verify that he was alive. The beak was opening and closing and you could observe the rise and fall of a chest that indicated breathing. By virtue of the location and failure to move when I approached, I was certain that something was wrong.

Soon I realized that my response was exactly that of a parent or educator and this bird was a metaphor for my roles. For a very long time, the bird did not change position. I wanted to feed it, help it fly or somehow assist in its recovery. My best guess is that he flew into one of our windows (it happens frequently) and essentially knocked himself into a frenzy.

Those of my experience and background want to help in some way. Because I am not a trained bird doctor or expert, I had no idea what to do other than observe. But that did not prevent me from wanting to do something or anything.

As educators and parents, sometimes we are forced to watch our charges flounder, stumble and work on their own survival methods. That is exactly what this bird did. Eventually, he began to walk and do several flips before landing on his side. Educators want to provide information, coaching or encouragement in this type of situation but sometimes it’s usually better to do nothing until called on to help. Bird never did that, of course, but I wanted to help him in any way that I could.

We left the bird alone, in spite of my desire to do something or anything. Checking back on him later, we saw that he had stopped breathing. Thankfully, our children and students seldom reach this type of resolution to their frustration. But in both cases, our best wishes and intentions occasionally must be stifled. In the case of offspring and students, children will seek our attention when appropriate. When that does not take place, we must simply watch. Shalom.

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