She had a fresh kill and two little cubs. And he never saw it coming.
This grizzly bear mama was feeding her cubs and herself when a bigger, hungrier male grizzly smelled food. Right before he did, she had taken her cubs to a safe place in the trees. And as the big male approached, WHAMO!, Mama came barreling out from the woods, charging and snarling. The male, slightly taken aback, snarled in return. But he didn't even stand a chance. She was swinging and biting and snarling, and he was backing away, despite his hunger.
He backed off temporarily, but he was apparently dumber than he looked because he came back. This time, he was standing on his hind legs. But she was having none of it. Again, he was taken aback by her sheer ferocity. And, finally, he was cowed into retreat.
I'm trying to keep it dim and quiet at bedtime while I nurse the baby to sleep, so reading is out. But I can watch nature documentaries, which I find fascinating. And that's when I saw this bear account. I was mesmerized, and no small fan of that mama grizzly.
What kind of fool comes between a mama and her young?
The next scene was of a mother hippopotamus. She was leading her baby into the common area of the lake when a bull charged them both. I was thinking of the bear.
"Good luck with that, pal" I snarked.
But I was wrong.
The mother hippo turned and ran (or swam, actually). And the baby was in tow.
I was riveted...and appalled. What was this mother thinking? At the very least, she had made a tactical error, placing the baby--rather than herself--between her and harm's way. She was either afraid, or she was just thinking about herself. Either way, she was wrong. And guess what? The bull got the baby, and the baby died. Like we didn't see that coming.
This has been a week for neighborhood kids, not in a good way. In fact, we've had weeks like this before. The issue is quite simple: I have a zero tolerance policy for bullying. And kids who bully my kids learn that in no uncertain terms. Probably comes from my seventh grade year, when I was bullied. I was small and mousy then. And sometimes I itch for a Back to the Future moment. Boy howdy, would things go differently. *cough*bringit*cough*
But I digress. I just include that so you don't get me confused with Ann Voskamp. I get that a lot.
So a couple days ago, a neighbor (I'd really like to call him Hell-boy, but we'll call him Eddie Haskell), and his little friend (who has more outfits than a Barbie doll, so we'll call her Princess Fru Fru) knocked on the door and asked if the kids could play. I should know to monitor these situations. But I didn't. And the seven year old and the four year old walked right into it. Wasn't long before the four year old was crying. Seems Eddie Haskell had hit him. Twice. With a stick.
I march into the backyard to find that both Eddie Haskell and Princess Fru Fru have escaped faster than Houdini. Back in I go for wound care. Then I hear them back in my yard. Unbelievable! Grrrrr. Back out.
"Go home," I tell them. "You're not welcome when you're mean."
That's when I interview the seven year old a little more closely.
Oh. They hide from you?
Oh. Pinky promises and secrets?
By now, my spidey senses are tingling.
No more playing with the Hellions (that's the plural form of Eddie Haskell and Princess Fru Fru.)
The seven year old is crestfallen. My heart rate is elevated.
Next day, the doorbell rings. Seems Eddie and Fru have thicker skulls than I originally thought.
I let the seven year old go out again. Seems I have a thicker skull than I originally thought.
Next thing I know, they are ringing the doorbell accusing the seven year old of something.
I find her, and it's true. She took something of Fru's.
Why??? I ask.
Because she's being mean. More hiding and more silent treatments.
Give Fru her things, I say.
To the hellions: Leave. Now.
I find the seven year old on her bed crying. I'm kneeling beside her and brushing her hair back.
I'm so sorry (for acting like the stupid hippo mama).
We have to love them. I wonder: does it have less impact when I say it through clenched teeth?
And, wonder of wonders, I look out my front window to see Hell-b-, I mean, Eddie and Fru having a snack together...on my lawn chairs. You've got to be kidding me.
I fling open my front door.
Leave, I say, with that flick of the monarch's wrist to his peons.
(Oh seriously.) I enunciate s l o w l y so they can understand. Get.off.my.lawn.
They're stupefied. As if they can't figure me out.
Bad kids, at least at that age, are bad because they have bad parents. Either the parents are apathetic--which is shameful--or they are ignorant--which is at least understandable. It's not like children come with a manual. But that's no reason for my kids to be collateral damage. I wonder what Eddie's mom would say if I told her the truth:
Your kid's the reason my kid's homeschooled.
I don't ever want to look like a hippo mama, letting my kids dangle unprotected in that big, bad world.
One day, they'll be old enough and equipped enough to take it on.
But this is not that day.
This is the day that I'll be known as the Meanest Lady On the Street.
And I'm good with that.
I'm really, really good with that.
It's not just a job;
it's an adventure.