Monday, August 30, 2010

The Birds

Q: How can I protect my baby from getting attacked by a seagull at the beach?

A:  Put away food. Use an umbrella.

I always imagine the worst case scenario.

If the worst case scenario does not culminate in death, hospitalization, or loss of limbs, I can usually remain calm and rational. If the worst case scenario is something disastrous, (meaning it does culminate in death, hospitalization, etc), I automatically go to into panic mode.

For instance, today I took my twins to the Belmar boardwalk. They were hungry so I found a picnic bench  at Gunny's Pizza  and started to feed them their bottles. Within moments, I noticed  that a flock of roughly fifteen seagulls were swooping over us.  Right next to us was a table of teenagers splitting a pizza and the seagulls were determined to devour a slice. Like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds, the seagulls were not friendly but rather agressive, menacing, even sinister. 

As usual, I started to imagine the worst case scenario.

What if there was an avian attack on one of my babies? What if one of those birds mistaked the orange bottle of Similac Sensitive for a slice of pepperoni and swooped low enough to inflict a cut or even a wound on their tiny little faces? What if the cut caused my babies to get some rare avian flu? I panicked, grabbed the bottles, and got the hell out of there.

The logical side of my brain was pretty sure I was overreacting. I spent most of my summers on the Jersey Shore and never heard of anyone being attacked by a seagull. Also, none of my parenting books advise to steer infants clear of  seagulls at the beach.

When I got home I googled the words: seagulls, attack, and people and I was surprised to see my fears were validated. The BBC reported that in Devon, England, they had to stop the mail service because seagulls were attacking postal workers: I also sought out the expertise of  Steven Wickstrom author of The Seagull Who was Afraid to FlyIn an email, he wrote that he never heard of a seagull attacking a baby. He said the birds would not come close to humans or babies unless there was food . "Keep food out of sight," he writes. He also recommends using an umbrella.

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