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Steal this excuse

October 15, 2011

My younger son, who’s in fourth grade this year, sometimes eschews the school bus and walks home instead.  If he doesn’t dawdle, he beats the bus; if he walks a roundabout way with a kid who lives nearby, he shows up a few moments later. I don’t start fretting until the bus pulls away and the kids from our stop fan out and vanish.  Invariably, when I go to the front door to peer anxiously down the street, I see his familiar little figure striding up the sidewalk.  When he spots me, he always breaks into a happy run.

One day last week, he was late.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, most of which I’d spent reading on the porch in lieu of working, so I felt both guilty and relieved when I heard the bus arrive at the corner.  Kids tumbled out onto the street shouting, and then their voices dwindled away.  Five minutes went by, then ten.  Where was he?  I checked the street, checked the clock, went back out on the porch to check the back yard, in case he’d taken a shortcut across our neighbors’ property, but no one was there.  In our town, where fences are rare, nearly everyone’s yard is considered a right-of-way for shortcuts; people walk through our yard and down my neighbors’ driveway all the time.  But every yard as far as I could see was empty, except for a few leaves sifting gently to the ground. I lunged back into the house and grabbed the phone to call the school; just then, the front door opened.  “Hi, Mom,” a familiar voice sang out.  “Guess why I’m late?”

“Because you walked with Anthony?” I said, setting the phone down, awash in relief.

“Nope!”  He let the screen door slam, flung his backpack aside, started to wiggle out of his shoes.  “Guess again!”

“Because you stopped at Dad’s to go to the bathroom?”  My children go to great pains to avoid the school toilets for any serious business, and while I can’t say that I blame them, I’m torn between disapproving of their habit of using their father’s house as a pit stop, and secretly hoping they forget to flush.

“No!”  He was practically vibrating with glee.  “Because I saw a stag!”

We have a deer problem in our town, whose population is composed mainly of academics, white-haired avid gardeners, conscientious parents, and Quaker pacifists.  The local newspaper, which comes out once a week, dutifully recounts in mind-numbing detail the various borough meetings at which, say, the pruning of municipal trees or a five-cent raise in metered parking rates is endlessly debated.  This fall, however, all contingencies were able to suspend their ideological differences and vote unanimously on a motion to lure the deer, next mating season, to a location deemed appropriate, then have hired snipers shoot them with high-powered rifles.  Meanwhile, the deer continue to wander the town unmolested, browsing on expensive shrubbery, crossing the street in groups of six or seven, nursing their fawns shamelessly in driveways.  A few weeks ago I watched as a stag strolled magnificently around the part of our yard reserved for wiffleball for the better part of half an hour.  (He eventually shat while maintaining eye contact, right on the third baseline.)  But I wasn’t going to burst my son’s bubble by pointing out that deer, in our neck of the woods, are almost as common as dogs.  “A stag!  How exciting,” I said, ruffling his hair affectionately.  “So you stayed to watch him, and that’s why you were late?”

My son shook his head vehemently.  “I couldn’t watch,” he said, in the tone of someone explaining the painfully obvious.  “I had to drop down to my knees and pretend to eat grass so he wouldn’t charge me!”

To all editors who wonder where in the hell my copy is, and to loyal readers who wonder where I’ve been for the past several weeks, after leaving you hanging, after failing to appear as scheduled:  I’ve been on my hands and knees, pretending to eat grass.  You wouldn’t want me to be charged by a stag, would you?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2011 8:27 pm

    No. No I wouldn’t. Graze away.

  2. helena permalink
    October 15, 2011 9:09 pm

    Genius, archetypal, and so redemptive. I’d like to steal that one, too, if you don’t mind: so much better to be late because you’re smartly crouched on bended knee eating grass to placate a regal natural icon than to be remiss in fulfilling your responsibilities because you’re huddled in fetal position on the floor in the dark after having succumbed to the Glenfiddich stag.

  3. October 15, 2011 9:12 pm

    huh, just realized that the web address on my account is screwed up. apparently wordpress is also busy eating grass…

  4. CWF permalink
    October 16, 2011 12:08 am

    I think I love you Helena, so well put, although succumbing to the Glenfiddich stag should definitely be embraced, occasionally. IB, you know how many times I’ve laughed out loud at the thought of your wee son “dwopping” to his knees to avert a stag attack. I’m giggling right now. I also think there’s nothing wrong with your kids leaving a little gift for their dad on their way home from a long bathroom free day at school.

  5. Susan permalink
    October 16, 2011 10:47 am

    That is just wonderful!

  6. October 17, 2011 4:11 am

    That is so cute!!!!

  7. October 17, 2011 12:07 pm

    ‘secretly hoping they forget to flush’ – Biggest. Guffaw. Ever. I needed that!

  8. October 17, 2011 11:39 pm

    The stag story is brilliant. (But I’m also with Hairy Farmer Family – the forgetting to flush is hilarious).

  9. October 18, 2011 7:52 am

    That is PHENOMENAL – you tell him that from me! We’re riddled with deer here – to the extent that they are a real danger on the road (hubby hit one whilst on his Ducati last summer and the end result wasn’t pretty Ducati 1 Deer 0.

    But when kids get soooo excited when they see a bit if wildlife, it stirs at something in my long-cynical soul that I wish would re-awaken….

    The tiny fear that you get when kids don’t appear when they ought to. Scariest feeling in the world. Even just for a minute.

    Deer shit – will that keep cats away? Or is that lion shit? We’re sadly VERY short on wild lions in Scotland.

  10. October 18, 2011 11:16 pm

    Wow! My kids still get excited about squirrels.

  11. October 19, 2011 11:56 pm

    that’s too funny!!

  12. kris (lower case) permalink
    October 25, 2011 11:34 pm

    you know what he says is true.. at least the possibility of getting charged at by a stag. rutting session makes them quite aggresive. whether pretending to eat grass keeps one safe or not… well, worked for him.

  13. November 3, 2011 5:24 am

    Your son is marvelous to say the least! Such a smart little man he is !
    Check this fun quiz hope you like it!
    Your Child’s Aptitude – Find out if your child is an aspiring artist or a mini scientist.

  14. November 11, 2011 2:07 am

    Priceless! Well no, certainly wouldn’t want you to be charged at by a stag. Absolutely love Helena’s comment. 🙂

    Just stopping by to say thank you for visiting my blog and your very kind comment. It’s lovely to meet you – and I think we might both be friends of Our Dear Twangy.

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