As is often the case, I walked my 8 year old son, Eli, to the bus stop about two blocks from our house. I also chose to take our two dogs, Maggie and S’more along with us. Not surprisingly, I’ve never managed to leash train the two canines, so a “walk” with them is more like an amateur wake boarding competition.
We were the first to arrive at the bus stop. But we were quickly joined by several of the usual grade school suspects. I was the only parent. Suddenly, I looked up and spotted a vicious predatory mountain lion aggressively racing towards us. Well OK, it wasn’t exactly vicious, and it wasn’t actually a mountain lion. It was a…coyote, a mean looking, mangy coyote. But mangy means hungry, doesn’t it? And on second glance, it wasn’t really racing towards us, it might have been minding its own business. But it was like 20 feet away from us and didn’t seem at all put off by me, my dogs or the little folk beside me.
I grabbed both leashes tightly as my dogs yelped and pulled towards the wild beast. Clearly they weren’t afraid. But I was. It felt like a situation on the verge of going horribly wrong. I struggled to hold the dogs back and avoid a wildlife confrontation. The coyote passed us without incident and turned the corner a few houses down. “Eli,” I said, my voice still shaking, “I have to get the dogs home so they’ll be safe. I can hardly hold them back.”
Then I corralled my two pups and headed off in the opposite direction. As I approached our house, I breathed a sigh of relief realizing we were out of harms way. But then it hit me. I had just left a cadre of elementary school children unarmed and unprotected with a rabid coyote on the prowl. What the heck is wrong with me? Sure the dogs were safe. But Eli might have been served up as Wile E’s second breakfast.
I dropped the dogs at home and turned tail to head back to the bus stop. But a few yards down the block I caught sight of the yellow school bus leaving the neighborhood.
“Phew,” I relaxed knowing that the children were safe and on route to school. Unless of course one had been eaten prior to the bus’s arrival. I heard my therapist’s voice in my head insisting I employ logic when “worry brain” starts to take over. “Nonsense,” I reasoned, “I’ve never heard of a single case where a lone coyote chowed down on a school child.”
Just in case, I drove by the bus stop on my way to work. There weren’t any entrails or blood stained concrete. I was relatively certain that no child had met with an untimely fate. But I will confess that I felt a whole lot better at 3:30 when Eli bounded off the bus surrounded by his entire posse of bus stop buddies.
Well, you know what they say, parenting is one third knowledge, one third judgement and one third luck. So in those instances when you come up a little short in the judgement arena, just pray that you’ve got a surplus of luck to fall back on.
p.s. To those of you feeling the urge to report me to child protective services and write chastising letters to the magazine: no children were actually endangered in the writing of this article. Our local coyotes are as timid as mice and as vicious as common house plants.