I think I may have scarred my son for life. I MAY have inadvertently given him a crippling fear of birds.

We set up our Christmas tree last week and on it I placed an ornament that has been on our family tree since I was about six years old. It’s a silver ball with a switch on it, that when switched on makes an extremely repetitive bird chirping noise. It just chirps the same note forever or until switched off again. What ornament designer thought this was a good idea I will never know, and it’s pure nostalgia that makes me drag it out and hang it up year after year. The fact that it has the SAME batteries it’s had since it arrived in our home should explain just how little we actually turn the thing on.

So, like every year before, I hung up this ball and flicked the switch to hear the old annoying familiar song. The little man’s face went deathly pale until I explained that it wasn’t in fact a real bird, but an ornament that made a bird noise. It took a few minutes, but he eventually calmed down and accepted that there wasn’t a real bird living in the tree.

This could have been the end of the story. He could have gone on to live his life quite normally, until we scarred him in some other, currently unforeseeable, way. But then he started whining.
And whining. And not listening. And I had a moment of mommy weakness.

I said “If you don’t stop whining, I’m going to have to open that door and let a real bird fly in to live in this tree.”

Okay, I admit, it was not my most shining moment in mommyhood. His eyes went as wide as saucers. And he stopped whining. And for two days any time he started to whine, all I had to do was look at him sideways and he would say “Mummy, no bird comes to live in our tree.”

I didn’t mention the bird again and it seems as if he’s forgotten, so we may have averted the potential bird phobia and thousands of dollars in psychiatrist bills for the future.

Although it HAS been suggested that I might want to resurrect the bird threat to try and make some progress in the poop department…