I've been putting off writing this entry, as I'm pretty sure that words won't do it justice. But I have to try. The other day, I told the kids to go outside. It was a beautiful day. I didn't feel like sweeping the sidewalk or tidying the yard or picking the tomatoes that will end up rotting in the kitchen (FYI, when one is the only tomato eater in the house, one should not grow 8 plants of 3 different varieties of tomato). I of course brought out needles and yarn and cast on for yet another project.
A few rows into it, I hear Nora say "Hi, little squirrel" in her sweet little voice, echoed by Nigel's voice repeating his sister's words. Hrm. I've never known a live backyard critter to hang out long enough for not one but two children to say 'hello.' I immediately assume that the kids are saying hi to a dead squirrel in our yard. I decide to investigate further. As I walk across the yard, I tell the kids to stay clear of it, because sometimes squirrels bite or scratch, and it would hurt. This warning served mainly to scare the boy up onto the swing, where be started crying, because the beast was still sitting there, staring at him.
Yes, a live squirrel, just sitting there, with a 3-year-old boy treed on a plastic swing.
I picked him up from the swing, one-handed, and set him on the swing on the other end of the set. My knitting was still in my left hand at this point. I'm not one to set down a project in the middle of a row, you know. He was still rather upset about the happenings, but he was feeling more safe.
Nora decided that it would be best to take a trip over to the sandbox a few feet away. She quickly started cooking a sand cake. The squirrel headed off toward her, and before I knew it, he hopped onto her leg and started climbing up her.
As if she were a denim tree!
I ran over, shooed the damned thing off my daughter, who had quickly become hysterical, and swooped her up to the same swing with her brother. The little bushy bastard got the message and loped off toward the hosta bed on the other side of the yard. The kids and I took this reprieve to gather up the 2 baby dolls and 3 backpacks that were outside with us. I picked up Nigel and we started back for the door. Just then, the rogue squirrel hopped back out of the hostas and up to the door.
Nora cowered behind me and said, "Let's go in the other door." It sounded like a great idea, except for the fact that the back door was locked. The only way to get back into the house was directly. past. the squirrel. These are the situations that separate the moms from the boys, so to speak. I looked around, noticed the umbrella that had been left out, and told Nora to pick it up. I gave her explicit instructions:
Do not hit the squirrel with the umbrella, but poke it at him if he starts to run at us.
Nowhere in the parent handbook did it ever mention that I was going to have to explain to a 5-year-old how to protect the family from aggressive rodents, using only her gumption and a red plaid umbrella. Believe me, I looked. It's not in there. Was there an addendum somewhere that I didn't get? I probably should have mailed in the registration postcard, huh?
So we quickly head for the door, umbrella in Nora's hands, Nigel, baby dolls, and Bainbridge scarf in mine, and raced for safety. The *&^%@! tried to run into the house with us! We got in without him, so he sat on the step outside the door and stared at us. For like twenty minutes.
The kids now do a squirrel search before they go play out there. It was the single strangest encounter with any critter in my 35 years on this earth. It even beats the goat at the zoo that bit me in the head when I was 8.