There are many things I’ve said as a parent that I never in a million years thought would come out of my mouth: “Don’t lick the walls,” “Why aren’t you wearing underwear?” and the inevitable follow-up “Where are your pants?”
That’s part of the job, and frankly, it’s the part I don’t mind too much. Until recently.
My son and I were walking through a park together one sunny weekend. We were at a birthday party. My husband and daughter were under the pavilion nearby with the rest of the partygoers and The Good Sir (that’s what I call my kid) and I were on our way back to rejoin.
Because it was so early in the season, the grass still had not been mowed for the first time this year and fall leaves still littered the ground. But I still saw it and I was hoping to every deity I could think of that The Good Sir wouldn’t.
But he did.
The furry tail of a long-dead squirrel was too much temptation for him, so he bent down and picked the thing up.
At this point, life went into slow motion. He’s being perfectly adorable and curious. I’m covered in the heebie-jeebies. “Put it down and don’t touch anything! Keep your hands away from your face!”
I couldn’t think of anything else to say. Should I have said, “We don’t touch dead animals”?
All I could picture were the germs and diseases that squirrel could possibly be carrying. I know it was ridiculous, being as there wasn’t much left of the squirrel, but my skin was crawling nonetheless.
Yelling to my husband to have hand sanitizer (or “hanitizer” as the kids say) ready, he looks at me holding The Good Sir’s non-squirrel-cootied hand while the other hand was sticking out away from his body and says, “Why?”
“Because he picked up a dead squirrel by the tail.”
I can’t even describe the look of shock, disgust and finally humor that crossed his face.
“If you only had a nickel, right?” I say.
“Yeah,” he says, laughing, as he lathers the sanitizer on The Good Sir.
You know what? I’d rather ask about the current location of underwear than have to talk about that again.
– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.