This little guy has a high EQ (emotional quotient) which is briefly described as an individual’s ability to recognize his/her own emotional state and the state of others. This is probably why it’s hard for a lot of people to share their lives with birds. If you’re upset, they are likely to get upset, too.
We tell him to calm down when he gets over excited sometimes. He’s gotten worked up about something in the past and told himself to “Calm.” Self awareness lives in parrots.
The first time we really clued into this was years ago, when we still lived in Sherman Oaks. Helen Hunt is one of Dodger’s favorite actors. She doesn’t even have to whistle to get his attention. One evening we were watching Mad About You and Helen paced across the screen stressing out about something, her hands stiff in front of her. Dodger walked back and forth on a TV tray, eyes intent on the screen and said, “Calm down! Calm down!”
We were astonished.
This past Sunday, we engaged in a little binge-watching of Flea Market Flip. It’s a show where people upcycle stuff they buy at a flea market and then compete to redesign and sell it at another flea market.
For us, this is like a sporting event where we sometimes both are crying out to the television, “No!” as someone slaps gray paint onto vintage oak or uses just the wrong fabric on that padded bench made out of an old chest of drawers.
So we’re both couch-quarterbacking the flippers, and Dodger says, “Calm! Calm down,” which gave us both a good laugh. We let him know it’s okay, we’re not really upset.
He may have actually helped us become better people over the decades. He’s 23 and we realized a long time ago that for him drama is its own reward. Getting an emotional response from us is super fun. It takes a lot of effort sometimes not to just yell, “Stop it!” and I still do sometimes, but I have gotten better at not reacting too much to the shattered mug on the kitchen floor. I have to respond and clean it up, but I don’t have to multiply the fun by getting all cranked up about it.
So hopefully, while he’s helped me embrace the Zen concept that the glass is already broken (so be grateful for the glass every day you can enjoy it), maybe we’ve helped him appreciate the value of calm.
Calm is, after all, where the scratches and cuddles live.