Friends & Family

A Raccoon in the Attic, and Other Reasons to Get Away from My Kids


My husband believes there is a raccoon living in our attic. With this in mind, he went upstairs with a ladder and baby-gated the rest of us downstairs. I grumbled about being stuck with both kids at this particularly hyperactive moment in the day (from about 3pm on it becomes chaos in our house, especially on days like today when we haven’t gotten out much) and he said, “Do you want to go in the attic? You can go in the attic.” With that self-sacrificial tone of voice, you know, that says quit whining and I’m the one doing the dirty work.

I said, “Yes! I’ll go in the attic!” To which he replied, “No, no, no, no, no,” and escaped as fast as he could, given he was carrying a giant ladder.

Now, maybe I’ve seen too many comedies. Maybe my respect for/fear of local wildlife is a little lacking. I don’t want to get rabies or touch raccoon poop or have a twenty-pound rat launch itself at my face. I’m not Will Ferrell, I’m not Chevy Chase. Such mayhem would not cue a laugh track, I know. But still, the idea of crawling around the attic with a flashlight, looking for a raccoon and its pile of treasures (when I think about raccoons, which is probably more than is normal, I always envision them hording piles of candy wrappers and costume jewelry, going over each item with their adorable little claws) seemed a lot better than staying inside. Because, well, my kids are inside. Clearly, my husband felt the same way. Perhaps he invented the racoon as an excuse to get away for a while–a theory compounded by the fact that he found no raccoon, nor evidence of one.


He put the ladder away and said he had to go collect eggs (we have six chickens–have I mentioned that?) but I had my shoes on and was out the door before he could finish the sentence.

There were no eggs. I’m pretty sure squirrels are stealing them. There’s a squirrel-sized hole in our fencing that I keep telling the man to patch but he never gets around to it and then insists the chickens just aren’t producing. Anyhow, my egg hunt was pretty anticlimactic, but I stayed with those chickens for as long as I could. I gave them some scratch, said hello, tried to remember their names. At some point I named them all after old Hollywood actresses–the barred rock is Betty Grable, I know, because that’s your classic farmyard chicken and Betty was your classic American girl; the one with fluffy white feathers on her feet is Zsa Zsa–but I couldn’t bring them all to mind. (Our first flock was brutally killed but not eaten by some local dog and I haven’t been able to be quite so close to these new girls, lest they meet a similar fate.) But then, after three minutes or so, I was just standing there in the cold. So I had to go inside.

Now, this might seem a little unfeeling of me. (Unless you’re a mom. If you’re a mom you probably get it. Or a dad. Or anyone who’s spent more than an hour with an overtired, maniacal one-year-old who refuses to nap and her crazy, cabin-fevered brother.) But in my defense, I spend almost every waking hour with these freakin’ kids, and some of those waking hours happen in the middle of the night when my son randomly decides it’s morning at one a.m. or my daughter has molars coming in (two just popped through–ouch for everyone). We all need breaks now and again. More than that. We need them frequently. Frequent, regular breaks. OSHA should be on our side, but as unpaid workers of dubious employ, they don’t seem to give a mouse’s tushie about us. So we have to collect eggs. Or, when our husbands say they’re going to get the mail, we have to put our shoes on as fast as we can and skip all the way to the mailbox. My mailbox is at least a tenth of a mile away, so that might as well be a Jamaican holiday–even if it is only thirty-something degrees.


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