Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Wife, The Zookeeper...

I can be a little neurotic when it comes to the safety of my son. And I'll admit, that some of my thoughts and maybe even a few of my actions are irrational. A tiny fraction still perhaps tread the tightrope that marks the borders of sanity. But my intentions are good, and yet for all my efforts, my wife's actions carelessly fly in the face of safety and sense...

For instance: Sunday 

We were winding down as another weekend drew to a close. My son and I had enjoyed one of our best outings to date. With my wife needing some quiet time for school work I had taken Simon to a nearby soccer field at the middle school, one surrounded by a 10 foot chain link fence, watchtowers, and security checkpoints. Just kidding, but it was fenced. After surveying the soft, sprawling grass and the gentle hills I pluncked him down between the two goals and let him have at it.

“Go ahead, I said as he looked up at me with wide-eyed amazement. “Walk it out.”

It was such a relief. Just to watch him giggle and wobble around, even occasionally fall without having to worry about steps, concrete, tree roots, or sharp corners, or loping dogs that don’t yield for little guys who are new to being upright. I looked on with a grin, pondering the scene as a light breeze drifted over us.

I am a genius…. I thought.

Back at home—where no one mistakes me for a genius— I ran Simon’s bath, still smiling about my worry free day when I peeked out of the window into the backyard. What is that? I leaned my forehead to the glass, focusing on the opossum sniffing around near the compost pile.

I called to my wife, who ran to the window, and we gazed out at our visitor wondering how he got in the fenced in back yard, and more importantly, how he was going to get out. I promised to open the gate after bath, shivering at his long tail slithering in the grass.  

And I thought that was the end of it.

So after bath, as routine dictates, I handed my son off to my wife and then headed back to the bathroom for my turn. Once again, I peeked out again at my friend, still foraging in the backyard in the gathering dusk. He’ll find his way out eventually, I thought. But he didn’t. Stepping out of the shower I glanced out of the window to see that the freaking opossum was still there and getting comfortable. And he had company. A Deer or a raccoon, you ask? Nope, my wife, standing there pointing and waving, holding my son and laughing like a trip to the zoo.

I wiped the fog from the window, my eyes widening at the site of my wife edging closer to the crouching varmint, his red eyes narrowing like lasers on my son, his tail slashing like a whip. The moonlight glistened from his fangs. He growled and hissed and I watched helplessly as my wife inched closer towards the snarling beast. See below...

A Chillingly Accurate Depiction of The Scene

Okay, he was maybe 15 feet away and still just sort of grazing. I didn’t see any fangs and there was no hissing, or snarling. But still, not the point. I jerked the window opened to put a stop to this madness, adjusting my towel and swallowing thoughts of rabies, infection, vertical jumping abilities of opossums.

“What are you doing?”

My wife looked up smiling. “He’s cute.”

Cute, I sighed, watching my son bounce with excitement. I couldn’t let this get out of hand, the next thing you know she’ll name him Opie and he’ll be sleeping at our feet.

“If you feed him, he’ll just come back.” I blinked, shaking my head, remembering that I was talking to someone who liked to say We should get a goat! at least once a week. My words were more encouragement than a deterrent

My son squealed and pointed. I grappled with the horrid images of worst case scenarios flickering in my head. Opossums can’t jump, can they? Finally, she opened the gate, coaxed him out, and then turned for the house. I breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone survived....this time.

I’m glad our son has her to feed his imagination. Little journeys of exploration and discovery are good and I may skim past all of that on my path to safety. It's a balancing act, and have to be careful to keep the scale from tipping too far in either direction. Me with the bubble wrap and helmet, her with the critter petting in the woods.

But as much as I may loosen up over time, possum petting is probably not my foreseeable future.

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