My daughter recently had a field trip with her kindergarten class. The school asked for parents to drive and to help keep track of the kids. They were going to a museum, which is huge. You could spend the entire day inside the museum, but to see everything outside would take another full day. Outside the museum there are miles of outdoor activities, live animals, a train, boats, and even dinosaur trails. I volunteered to go, not really thinking about how hard it was going to be having my three year old with me. The week before the field trip, I had re-injured my ankle and was now back in my “boot”. I left that museum with a swollen foot and throbbing leg. I was also covered in sweat, pollen, dirt and I what I am fairly sure was squirrel pee!
My daughter really wanted to go on this field trip and, in order to help drive, I was going to have to keep my son home from school and take him with us. The museum was too far away from his preschool and I could not make it back to pick him up at 11:45 (when he gets out). But, I was actually looking forward to taking him on the field trip; I knew he would have a great time and he loves doing things with his big sister. We got to the museum to meet her class and they were both very excited. There is a big rocket at the front of the museum and my son was fascinated! He could not stop talking about the rocket and I felt like I made the right decision to bring him on the fun, but still educational, field trip.
When the rest of my daughter’s class arrived, she informed me that she was NOT staying with me. My daughter told me that she would be staying with her teacher, and a select group of friends, and I was to take her little brother and avoid her until the end of the day. Her teacher (who loves her) agreed to keep her, so “little miss independent” walked away with her cool, mommy-free, group. I drove 45 minutes (to that museum) for my daughter, and she decides that she wants to be with her friends, not her family! Honestly I was a little sad, but it was still an opportunity to spend quality time with my son.
My son and I went the opposite direction of my daughter. We spent a lot of time looking at the space exhibits and the satellite. We studied the live owls, alligators, and birds and had just finished learning about clouds, when my son decided he wanted to go find the dinosaur trail. We headed outside and followed the signs. It was a pretty morning in mid-April and things were starting to bloom, but it was also starting to get hot. It was a long walk over multiple terrains. As I hobbled over the concrete, gravel, and mulch paths, I could already feel my re-fractured foot and leg throbbing but, my son was excited. We finally arrived at the dinosaurs and I was relieved to find that it was one of the shadiest places outside the museum. The trail was just cut into the very tall trees and, in a few places, the trees arched and provided complete cover from the sun.
We walked the dinosaur trail 3 times. I was exhausted, but he loved seeing the life-sized dinosaurs set out in the trees. He wanted me to read him every detail about the dinosaurs. He listened, asked questions, and talked up a storm. He was happy as a lark, but I was hot and in pain! He wanted to take the trail again (for the 4th time) but I talked him into going to get some lunch. I really wanted to get off of my foot and rest it for a minute. He reluctantly agreed, after I promised to find him french fries, and we turned and headed back toward the entrance.
We were now retracing our footsteps and heading back down the long wooded trail toward the cafe. This part of the trail narrows and is surrounded by nothing but very tall, arching trees. I was enjoying the cool shade, when I was startled by the feeling of something wet hitting my head. I jumped forward and then turned around because I heard a loud “splat” on the concrete path behind me. I then quickly looked up because I heard something in the tops of the trees. The sound was a branch cracking/moving above us. I stood there, shocked and confused, as I tried to determine what this weird gush of fluid was that fell from the trees.
My first thought was that a bird had pooped on me. I was looking at the wet splatter pattern and trying to determine what it could have come from. It was hard to say how much liquid had actually fallen. It had made a pretty loud “splat”, but I don’t think it was actually all that much liquid. It was more likely that it made such a loud noise and such a wide splatter because it was falling from such a height – it had to be falling very far and very fast! It still seemed like too much liquid to have come from a bird, and I also heard the sound of a cracking, bending branch above me. Something was moving on, or jumping from, one of those narrow branches 50 feet above me. It had to be a squirrel, I thought. On a daily basis, I see them walk up, and on, the most unbelievably high and narrow branches. I have watched them spidey-man up the side of our house; they are unbelievable climbers!
I was positive that only a bird or squirrel could have been up that high, and there was no wing-flapping, chirping, or squawking going on. It was not a bird, and it was not the rain, so it had to be a squirrel. But, I still had to determine what that furry little menace (the squirrel) had actually dropped from the tree. Either he was up there having a drink, and spilled his little dixie cup, or he peed on me! OK, I was now fairly confident that a stupid, furry little rodent had just peed on me (on the dinosaur trail) at the museum! To make matters worse, I had just put my favorite sunglasses up on my head (when we hit the shade). That squirrel had the nerve to pee on my favorite sunglasses! Seriously! I cant put those back on my eyes!
We went to eat and I caught a glance of my hair in a mirror in the cafe. Nothing noticeable jumped out; it was not super obvious that an animal had just peed in my head, so I decided to put it behind me and not let it ruin the day. I was relieved to find that, beside the forks, the cafe had set a huge bottle of sanitizer out. I rubbed that sanitizer on my hands and tried to forget that an animal had just taken a wiz on my head. After eating, my son felt much better but, I could not say the same. We headed down the road and ran into my daughter looking at the stinky farm animals. Between the smell of the animals and the heat, I started feeling nauseous. Even though she protested, we decided to follow my daughter’s group, to the play fort.
My son was determined to do everything his big sister was doing and she was determined to stay far away from him. She climbed up in this tall wooden fort, but my son could not reach the steps. She just left him hanging there – stuck! I had to squeeze through mobs of children as I tried to rescue my dangling son. My huge “boot” kept getting stuck between wooden slabs and impatient, stinky, older kids elbowed and kicked me as they fought to push past me and my trapped little boy. It was a nightmare! I got my son down and then chased him over bridges, through concrete tunnels, and down wooden ramps, all with a broken ankle. I was covered in sweat, dirt, green pollen (which was falling from the newly budding trees), and what I am pretty sure was squirrel pee! I felt disgusting!
It was finally time for all of the kids to go and I was so relieved! We got into the air-conditioned car and there was a moment of silence. We were all tired and the 45 minute drive home was fairly quiet. We walked in the door and I told the kids to wash their hands and gave them some fruit. I turned on the TV and told them that I was going to take a quick shower because I was pretty sure that a furry rodent had urinated on my head.
After I removed the sweat, pollen, and animal urine, I felt like a new person. I came out and sat with my kids and thought about the number of people at the museum today. There were hundreds of people there. I wondered if anyone else had an animal confuse them with a toilet! I was still questioning if anything else could have fallen from such a height. I thought again about hearing the distinct sound of the branches cracking, and then watching them rustling overhead; it was as if an animal was jumping from one branch to another. Just then, I looked out the second story window. I saw one of the long branches shake and watched as a squirrel tightrope-walked down the thin limb. The squirrel just sat, with unbelievable balance, on the very edge of the limb as he ate it’s red berries. I reached up and touched my newly washed hair and found myself sneering.
It was now official; I am now (and forever) completely over squirrels! They are no longer cute, agile, determined little creatures; they are troublemakers! I thought about how they filled our gutters with dirt, rocks, and mud (to make nests) which basically turned into cement. Those squirrels cemented out gutters, and down spouts, costing us a lot of aggravation and money. Now, they have the nerve to go and pee on me! I am an animal lover, but these animals truly are a total pain in my rear (and a mess in my hair). I I don’t ever want to see one of those bushy-tailed rats again.
Well, so much for my fun-filled, educational trip to the museum. I hope my children learned something educational today, because I sure didn’t. Well, maybe that is not true. I did learn the importance of investing in a parasol, a slicker, or even a waterproof wide-brimmed hat, if you are going to be walking under trees or forest creatures! So, I guess I did learn something today; maybe the day wasn’t a total loss after all!
Not cool Mr. Squirrel! That was seriously not cool!