Published Apr 20, 2010

Birds, in case you were wondering, are kind of like two-year-olds: they get obsessed with the new words they learn, and they should probably be wearing diapers. Junior has learned a new word, and it’s threatening to tear our household apart.

When birds learn words, the typically practice those words for months or longer, to get it just perfect. Junior learned “good-bye” two and a half years ago, and used it just once, and perfectly, until a month or two ago, when he began to use it every day.

In retrospect, we should’ve been expecting more trouble from this new word. That one time he said good-bye? It was when DJ L’il Bit disciplined Junior for the first time. He acted out, she put him in his cage, and, clear as day, he said “good-bye!” and then turned away. He was angry and he knew just what he wanted to happen next.

Now he uses it all the time. Sometimes it’s appropriate — if you put on a coat or your shoes, he’ll say “good-bye!” If he gets a little excited, he’ll take it a little too far, and say “good-bye!” to anyone who turns their back. And he’ll play peek-a-boo all day while I’m working in my office, stepping away to where we can’t see each other and then saying “good-bye”

But the problem is that he knows the word not just as a descriptive term, but as a command. And that’s where the dog comes in.

Because you haven’t had enough context so far: the dog has stairs.  In the bedroom. The bed’s higher than he’s long, so it’s just an orthopedic requirement to keep his back healthy and limber. Like the good boy he is, he always climbs up the stairs and ususally climbs down too.

Because you haven’t had enough context yet, when I’m getting dressed, I put the bird on the bed; he stomps around and keeps me company while I pick out an outfit. Ususally the dog joins us and sits on the bed, although he hates the bird and is somtimes driven away in annoyance. On Monday, Jake climbed up the stairs and… at the top was the bird, blocking his way onto the bed. Junior looked right at the dog and said: “bye-bye!” It was a command.

Worse, it worked. With nowhere to climb, the dog backed down. Later in the day, I interrupted Junior as he was happily hanging out with his favorite person, his mother, DJ L’il Bit. And that’s when Junior told me “bye-bye.”

Nothing good will come of this.