There is an upside to Dobby & Myrtle losing three of their four chicks. Now they only have one; the One and Only Winky. Having only one makes the logistics of keeping Winky alive a little easier, just as bringing only one item to the beach makes coming home to make dinner much easier for us. (I always chose a towel over a chair or umbrella because it can double as either in a pinch.)
But the beach is hostile environment for an itty bitty. On a single, basically quiet afternoon, we can see how Dobby, Myrtle, and Winky are totally surrounded by chaos.
So how is an itty bitty supposed to survive the chaos? The same way our children do: good parenting.
Which is why I’m a little concerned that Dobby & Myrtle seems to be adopting the Permissive Parenting style so popular with the younger generation. Thanks to 2015’s banding project, we know that Dobby is a local from Holgate born just last year. He’s a young father for sure. Myrtle was unbanded, so we don’t know her age but we can guess that she chose such a young mate as Dobby because she is either young herself, or an older female who wants to feel young by robbing the nest bowl.
PIPL Parents control their young by calling them, much like we do. And also like us, Piping Plover have a few different ways of communicating, from “Hey! Stop right there or you’re in for 20 lashes with a blood werm!” to a more gentle, “Ummm, Sweety? We’re sorry to interrupt but could you do Mommy & Daddy a favor and come here for just a little moment?” Getting the right mix is dynamic in all parenting and comes down to what works for all of the individuals involved.
Unfortunately, it appears Dobby & Myrtle have found no style of call that works at all, so instead are simply letting Winky run totally amok on the beach without parental consequence. Good parenting is a delicate balance of freedom and discipline if you are to ensure your children to stay safe and acquire a wide variety of dynamic skills needed to navigate a crazy world. Rather than give Winky a little freedom to explore on his own, then call him in to learn him right, Dobby & Myrtle seem to have opted for an uber permissive style that involves Winky doing whatever he feels like doing, while Dobby & Myrtle sheepishly follow him around, panicking about the dangers, and occasionally telling him he is a “winner no matter what.”
Compare and contrast this to Tace-ters madly effective parenting style. Tufters & Tacey are widely regarded by scientists, management officials, the public, and even the media as the world’s best Plover Parents. They light the way.
Perhaps it is their youth and inexperience (General Confused Permissiveness). Perhaps it is the extreme trauma they suffered when they lost three of their precious babies within hours of their hatch (Indifferent Permissiveness). Or maybe Dobby & Myrtle are simply an example of the evolution of parenting. Maybe they are just caught up in the infinite cycle of generational perspective, trying to right the perceived wrongs of their own parents, while making fresh mistakes in their own reactive blind spots (Compensatory Permissiveness).
Only with hindsight, when we can reflect fully on the completeness of Winky’s life & times will we be able to form a useful judgement.
My biggest fear is that studies seem to suggest the net result of overly permissive parenting can be narcissistic and entitled adults. We are on The Road To 200, and this is The Recovery. We are speeding towards a future so full of Piping Plover, our only option will be sharing the beach. And sharing depends on both of us: the people and the PIPL. Sharing takes a little discipline, a healthy respect for the needs of others, and the ability to reign in our own immediate desires.
Rate this post with the number of Gold Stars you think little Winky deserves!