“Squirrel Mama” and “Downtown Day” (Two True Stories)
As an educator and a mother, I have a heightened sensitivity to anything that shows ways of nurturing children. There are many lessons to be learned, through what happens in nature, if we just pay attention. The essence of motherhood is entailed and demonstrated in nature through this humorous story, “Squirrel Mama”.
Mr. Bill heard noises in his attic. He went outside in his backyard to see if he could find out where were the noises coming from, and what was making the noises? When he got outside, he noticed that there were a few squirrels in the trees, running around in the yard, and also going into a hole in his attic wall. He watched the squirrels to study how could he get them out of his attic, and prevent them from getting back in again. He discovered that there was a mama squirrel and her babies in the attic. He began to call her “Squirrel Mama”.
Mr. Bill found a long branch that had fallen from a tree in his backyard. He slanted the branch against the wall, under the hole in the attic. He hoped that the squirrels would use it as a way to get out! He saw how Squirrel Mama began to use the branch to enter and leave the attic where her babies were. He began to beat on the wall where the squirrels were, hoping that they would run out! After repeating this several times, he saw Squirrel Mama begin to coast five babies out of the hole in the attic, down the branch, and up into a tree in the yard. He then quickly nailed two boards over the hole to block the squirrels from getting in.
The next morning, Mr. Bill went to leave his house through the front door when he noticed Squirrel Mama running around frantically in the yard! She came to the door in front of him and stood up on her hind legs to block him from leaving. Every-time he tried to avoid her, Squirrel Mama would flank his path, impeding his progress. Guiding Mr. Bill without words but with squeaks, she proceeded to run to the end of the porch, around the side of the house to the backyard, and up the branch leading to the hole in the attic wall. When Mr. Bill followed Squirrel Mama to the backside of the house, his ears perked up; he could hear more scratching coming from the attic. Mr. Bill began to remove the boards, blocking the hole. Squirrel Mama went into the hole and began to coast two more babies out of the attic, down the branch, and up the tree with her other babies. Using caution, he checked the hole, and then nailed the boards back over the hole in the wall.
The story “Squirrel Mama” and my story, “Downtown Day” show a mother’s love and nurturing of their offspring.
My parents were rich, but not with lots of money. They were rich in wisdom through patience, love, compassion, ingenuity, and good work ethic. Growing up during the Civil Rights era, my mother was able to navigate through the dangerous times, finding joy and positive ways to raise us, in spite of the dangers. She understood how to persevere through tough times, and in turn, passed these qualities onto her children.
Mama would find methods and creative ways to understand all four of her children’s personalities, and “marveled” at the responsibility of raising us. Mama would initiate special outings with all of us together and individually. One of these creative outings was called, “Downtown Day.” It represents memories that I will cherish forever.
One Saturday out of each month, mama would take one, of the four of us, out to lunch on “Downtown Day.” This was a name used to reference a day out in the shopping and business district in the city. Before the equal rights transitions took place in the south during the Civil Rights Movement, I am a living witness of a period of time, where I could only eat, be served, and shop in certain designated areas and places. On my special “Downtown Day” with mama, I was able to buy something special, and order anything I wanted to eat at the lunch counter designated only for Blacks. We would have a good time laughing and talking together about everything! Our modes of transportation were walking and the city bus. So this was a method that mama used to teach us about the city, and how to get around on our own. Periodically, she would take all of us out together as a treat! Through “Downtown Day” I also learned patience, with anxious anticipation for my next turn at having my own day again with mama!
Mama had to work very hard to provide for us, just like Squirrel Mama did for her babies. Also, like Squirrel Mama, my mother was our protector. She always made sure that we were together, taken care of, and stayed safe.