What is this, you ask? Meet Miss Owlie, our new family security guard. Miss O came home with us tonight, after an emergency trip to the local toy store. It wasn’t a cheap night, I’ll say that. Partly because we didn’t end up at no Toxics R Us. No no no, we headed straight for the all-natural, eco-friendly organic European import toy store. Miss Owlie actually hails from Mass. but I digress… It also wasn’t a cheap night because you never go to the toy store and just leave with one thing. Especially when you have two kids. So we also are the proud owners of one sparkly pink magic wand that was already on its way to unraveling as we left the store and one little Olivia doll. $55.75 later – cha-ching.
Ah – but the reason for Miss Owlie, I’m getting to that. It seems that in the Punkernoodle household we have finally reached the era of Irrational Preschooler Fears and Undeterrable Ideas. Punk One, who is now 4, has suddenly become overwhelmingly terrified of raccoons. Specifically, that raccoons will break into our house, getting past our alarm system, 40-pound dog and hermetically sealed vinyl windows, crawl up the stairs, enter her bedroom and … I don’t know what. I’m afraid if I ask for specifics she’ll freak out even more than she already is.
We’ve being woken up every 2 hours all night long for the past week (hello, can you say worse than a newborn feeding schedule?!) with such pleas as “I can’t do it” and “When is it going to stop?” – by the latter I can only assume she means when is her brain going to stop eating her alive. So we did the research. The fears are normal, in fact very common, for preschoolers. Which makes sense because I can remember as a 3-year-old torturing my mother for months about the witch who lived in the upper right-hand corner of my closet.
So we considered the options and decided on a confidence-building reverse psychology little-white-lie tact. With Punk One in rapt attention, I Binged for “raccoon predators” and read her the list, which included the expected wolves, foxes, mountain lions, coyotes and the unexpected owls and water moccasins and fishers (what the hell is a water moccasin?). Then we drove to the Socially Un-Objectionable Toy Store Where Nothing Shall Hail From China and let her loose. “Pick out a new friend who will protect you,” we cooed. After 20 minutes of squealing and shelf mauling, Miss Owlie was ours, along with Olivia and the wand, which was intended to cast spells on the bedroom so that no errant raccoons could penetrate.
In the car on the way home, Punk One, exuding a perilous new confidence, told her sister “now we don’t have to be afraid, Miss Owlie will protect us.” Punk Two, who is 2 1/2, looked right at her big sister and scoffed “I’m not afraid of any raccoons.” Apparently she is deciding to skip the Irrational Fears phase in favor of the Mortal Concerns Are No Skin Off My Back phase.
What about the little white lie, you ask? Well to seal the sweet deal and reclaim some mortal sleep, we informed Punk One before bed that our neighbor next door, and elderly lady obsessed with gardening, personally knew the one and only raccoon who lived in the neighborhood and in fact was quite good friends with her. This raccoon, we said, was a lovely little animal who liked to visit the garden now and again for some water but had absolutely no interest whatsoever in coming into our house through the cat door for a midnight nibble or even visiting with our 7 fresh, plump chickens living in the backyard.
Lastly, we cast a good spell on the room before tuck-in, and reminded her in an absolutely supportive and non-threatening way that hopefully Miss Owlie could get the job done and keep her in bed all night or she would have to head back to the Toy Store of the Gods to help another child. Yes, we are evil. And tired. And sick of talking about raccoons, which we all secretly know are indeed the most filthy, disgusting and terrifying predators roaming our streets in hungry packs of rabid death squads.
Here’s to a cozy night.