Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wildlife: the feathered, the furry, and the oh-so-stinky ones.

Once you have kids, you almost need to expect that every day is courting disaster. Three and a half years of doing this, I should have this lesson memorized by now. Yet I'm surprised every time.

It started out simple enough. Jordan had the day off from camp, so I thought we'd go have a morning adventure at the zoo and revisit the budgies.

Yeah, these things. I'm holding the feeding stick, the bird, and taking a pic at the same time. Pretty impressive huh? Don't ask me where the kids were. I had to keep my eye on the bird. I clearly have not been keeping my eyes on my nails though. Look at that horrendous bit of red polish left there in the corner. Eww.

When we went to visit the budgies last year, Mina was the adventurous one, and happily held the feeding stick for the birds. Never underestimate the power of one year to instill some fear into a child.

I had to hold her first to get her acclimated.

After that, she would only inspect the birds if the feeding stick was placed on the ground for them to descend upon. She'd then crouch down and watch them. In a surprise move, she began doing the "Stomp the bubbles dance." Those of you familiar with gymboree-like classes will understand where this came from.

In class, when the bubbles come out, you either pop them with your hands or stomp them with your feet. There in the budgie exhibit, I guess Mina got a little confused. Either that or I need to acquaint myself with the ASPCA.

I shouldn't really be surprised. She wasn't treating them much better last year.

Jordan, on the other hand, found his calling.

"Here bird, are you hungry?" He kept asking. And they came.

As much fun as they had with the birds, what really got them excited was "the circle!" Nothing like running around in a circle, under the blazing hot sun, in 88 degree weather, right next to the cow barn at the farm.


Because I am such a good mother, I let them run around repeatedly. I figured they'd nap better. I tried not to breathe so much.

Later that evening, I had an even better reason to hold my breath.

It was around 10:30. I was curled up in bed watching "Love in the Time of Cholera." Jeff was preparing to go to bed. But trying to be helpful, he went downstairs to let Oscar out for one last evening run in the yard.

Poor Jeff. He had a very big day ahead of him in court. I think he may have tempted fate that evening, as he announced, "I'm going to bed early. I want to be rested for tomorrow."

Well into my movie, I tried to ignore the sound of Oscar barking outside. Then I heard the shouting.

I went down to investigate.

And the smell hit me.

Skunked!! Oscar!!!

Right in the face. There stood Oscar, foaming furiously at the mouth, while he licked himself like a maniac trying to get rid of the funk. Said funk just slobbered its way all over my floor, and permeated every molecule of air in the house.

Don't ask me how a skunk managed to find his way into our fenced in backyard, or what a skunk is doing in the middle of the most suburban stretch of street you can imagine, or how our idiot dog, who's scared of his own shadow felt brave enough to chase this thing down.

All I know is that I did not get to watch any more of my movie.

Six applications of shampoo later, one intense conditioning treatment with vinegar and water, and a subsequent shampoo, a towel dry and a blow-dry...and Oscar was ready to join civilization again. He smelled much better. The same could not be said for my house, myself, or my husband.

We spent the next several hours scrubbing, mopping, and washing. I spent the better part of this morning mopping again, disinfecting everything, vacuuming, and airing out the house.

Exhausted, Jeff and I collapsed into bed. But the curse continued.

At 5:00 am, we awoke to the sound of Jordan screaming in terror. It was the lightning and thunder again. Argh!!! We went in to comfort him, brought him some milk, and tried to calm him down. Just as it seemed he was ready to settle down, another loud crash outside would set him off. We just gave up. I sent Jeff downstairs to catch an hour or so of sleep on the couch, and brought Jordan into our bed.

He happily spent the next hour giggling like a loon and poking me in the eyes to see if I was really asleep or not.

At 6:00, we were all seated at the breakfast table. The day stretched out before us... long, and impossibly bleary, from my perspective. I'll leave it to Jeff to fill in the details from his side of it.

By the way, I would just like to add something in parting. Many people who have happily raised their kids and sent them off into the world advise other parents that they should "nap when the baby does."

There is nothing I would like better than to nap right now. It's officially nap time in the house, and after last night, I could use one. Instead, I am wide awake listening to my daughter across the hallway.

"Cock-a-doodle doo!!!!" She says. Over and over again.
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