Marvin is one of our two parrots. He’s our Blue Throated Macaw, and while he can be a real handful, he’s one of the sweetest parrots we’ve ever had the privilege of owning. He’s bright, very mechanical and loves, loves, loves to swing around and upside down on your hand. He’s also quite fond of cuddling up into my arms on his back, like a baby.
Both of our parrots are still young at year and a half old, but they mature at different rates. Marlowe, our green Quaker Parrot, is in a full hormonal puberty swing. Basically, he’s an angry, angry teenage boy, and can go from cuddly lover to psycho biter in seconds flat. Marvin, on the other hand, being the much longer lived of the two breeds, won’t likely begin puberty for another two years or so.
Marlowe, the Quaker, will always be the better talker of the two. Since he’s ahead of Marvin in the game of growing up, his vocabulary is wider and more varied. Both birds are learning new words and associations all of the time, however, as was proven to me yesterday afternoon.
We had a rule in this house. The birds would not be taught to say anything we wouldn’t wish to have to explain to our child’s Kindergarten Teacher. We understood from the word go that raising a baby and raising parrots would have many challenges- only one of which would be that the parrots would teach our little baby new words, and vice versa.
So when Marvin looked up at my girlfriend from his morning mash of banana and pistachio nuts with a bright and hearty “What the FUCK!” I froze. No… no. Maybe he didn’t say that. Maybe it was supposed to be something else? I could hope, right?
The thing with parrots is, it’s never any secret who is responsible for the learning of inappropriate behavior. The parrot will let you know in his own words- in YOUR own voice. So when my voice came calling out of that bird’s beak, I had nobody to blame but myself.
And I thought we were doing so well. Time to watch my mouth even more than I already do! I know how it happened- I say it on the phone when someone calls me with a noteworthy bit of family gossip. And if you’re ever met my family, well… obviously it happens often enough for a parrot to pick it up.