I did it to myself. I’ve got no one else to blame. The buck stops here. I’d like to blame it on the school…or the church…or the world in general. I’d even like to blame it on my kids. But unfortunately the guilt for the chaos in my life falls smack on my own two shoulders.
It crept up on me, like it does for everyone.
You start with one kid, then two, three, four and…well, some of us just can’t get enough of a good thing I guess. You agree to one after school sport for the first kid which turns into a sport for the next kid and the next. You discover your kid has abilities in a certain area which you are told you must foster and so you find yourself driving to music lessons or art classes or community activities. And of course, there are the “must dos”, things that aren’t negotiable like swimming lessons. Add to that your church youth programs and boys/girls clubs which are an invaluable support to me as a parent in trying to train up my kids to know their Saviour. Pretty soon you find they don’t make calendars big enough to hold the multitude of details that need to be remembered in a day. And where does it all lead? Exactly where you’d expect, to coyote hunting.
The day started out like most of our days, eating breakfast together and going over the schedule for the day; who was staying at school, who was coming home on the bus, which parent was doing the pick-up and what time supper should be ready so that we could eat together before heading off to the next series of activities. But this time we noticed we had a 15 minute window where both parents were gone at the same time and in opposite directions. That meant a ton of unnecessary driving for the bottom three boys and very little down time after a full day of school. The little guys were unimpressed to say the least and began petitioning for the opportunity to babysit themselves. Out of the question!! But as evening rolled around and I watched them playing Lego together so happily, I wavered.
Only 15 minutes. They’d barely even notice we were gone.
Insert mom talk here.
Steve was only a minute away, practically in sight of the house. Besides, Aiden is 10. Granted, when his nose is buried in a book, a bomb could go off next to him and he wouldn’t flinch, but really, what could go wrong in 15 minutes? Steve, being the casual, easygoing dad that he is didn’t bat and eye but I did my due diligence and began the mom talk. No answering phones unless it’s mommy or daddy. Lock all doors. If the doorbell rings, don’t answer it, don’t even go to the window to check who it is. I wrote down phone numbers and went through the fire drill plan. Even to me it seemed a bit like overkill but it had to be done. As I was going out the door I even added, just to be safe,“Don’t use the oven or the stove!” and got the raised eyebrows from Aiden and a very droll, “That’s sorta obvious Mom.” As I drove out of the driveway I still felt compelled to call Steve beseeching him to get home as fast as was safely possible. I think at this point, my entire family was rolling their eyes at me.
Unbeknownst to me…
Fifteen minutes later, I got the long anticipated text that Steve had rolled into the driveway and the house was still standing. I breathed a sigh of relief and carried on to the volleyball game, footloose and fancy free. Unbeknownst to me, Steve did not find the boys where we had left them, happily playing Lego. Sure, the house was still standing, but there were no boys in it. Steve, not given to fits of panic, and being a boy himself once, began a search of the farm.
It was dusk but since boys are rarely quiet, he stood still, listened and soon heard their faint voices. He followed the sound to the back of the barns and looking out over the fields, in the distance, he saw three boys, all brandishing sticks as weapons and obviously in the middle of a hunt of some kind. He could hear the whooping and hollering and sense their excitement from afar. He smiled to himself as only a dad does when he sees his boys enjoying life and adventure.
But, as his eyes adjusted to the dim light he noticed several other shapes slinking around the outskirts of their hunting party and to his alarm realized that the boys were not on an imaginary hunt but were in hot pursuit of a pack of coyotes. But from where Steve stood it was unclear as to who was doing the hunting, the boys or the coyotes!
Steve hasn’t sprinted since he was in college but he would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money that night as ran the 1/4 mile to catch those boys.
But we heard them howling!
By the time Steve arrived, the boys had chased those coyotes into a grove of trees along the river and were congratulating themselves on a job well done. They had successfully protected the farm and were practically vibrating, they were so pumped up with adrenaline. When asked why in the world they had done such a thing and didn’t they understand how dangerous it is to chase wild animals, they were truly stumped. “But we heard them howling…what else were we supposed to do? Besides we weren’t stupid, dad, we made sure we had sticks.“ Steve wisely decided not to relay the events of the evening to me until the following morning, when they boys began our breakfast conversation with,”guess what we did last night, Mom!!”
Looking back, I truly thought I had covered it all as I left the house that evening. The fire drill plan, the stranger at the door plan…but how careless of me not to have gone over the ‘what to do if you hear a pack of coyotes howling outside plan.’ Lesson learned for mom.