Driving to the water park, joyful with anticipation, thanking God for the rare day full of sun, blue skies, and respectable humidity…I see a dead something or other on the side of the road. Before I can stop myself I hear me say out loud, (with three kids in the back seat), “What is that dead thing over there? A skunk?” Then, seeing it’s a calico cat, say, “Oh, yep.” ‘Cause I don’t want to upset the little ones.
Blush. Yes, it was a lie. Oh, well, Sue me. It was all I could think to do. So the eight year old, Xavier gets all excited. “A dead skunk?!” He gushes, craning his neck to see. Of course we have already gone by it. “Oh, man! I’ve never seen a dead skunk before! Can we go back that way on the way home?”
The nine year old, Brandon, says, “No. Not me. You have to take me home and I live the other way. Unless we come back to Wendy’s for a Frosty Float. Grandma, are we going to get a Frosty Float after the water park?”
“I guess so,” I say, thinking they will surely have forgotten about the road kill by 7:00 p.m. when the pool closes. Thank God the baby is riding along in her car seat, happily unaware.
We swim. We have snacks. We float down the lazy river. We play on the splash pad. Reapply sunscreen. Listen to the soothing sound of the fountains. Climb around on the pirate ship and let the baby “steer” it. Everyone is smiling. It is absolutely the most summery summer day we have had all season. A true gift since there is only one pool day left this year. I am just thrilled and thanking God all day long.
7:00 p.m. comes around too quickly. We pack up the toys, towels, leftover snacks and whatnot and stuff them into the stroller. Pack up the car. Get everyone buckled up. Argue about whether we’re getting the FREE Frosty Floats (coupons) or getting something else (seriously, we do this every time!), then Xavier says, “I can’t wait to see the dead skunk!”
Sigh. I pick up speed as we drive by the dead cat and both boys hike themselves up to have a look. I glance over to see if it could pass for a skunk. Nope. But for some reason it does. Ok, they’ve seen the dead thing up close and personal. They might get a little upset. I hope I will know how to answer any questions they might have.
Suddenly they both squeal with delight.
“I saw it!” Xavier says.
“Me, too!” Brandon chimes in.
“I wonder what would happen if you kicked it?” Xavier ponders aloud.
“What?” I say, disturbed. “How much does something have to suffer? I mean, it’s a being. With feelings and…and…”
Brandon pipes in, “Legs?”
“No, I’m trying to say it feels pain!”
“Well, I’m still excited that I got to see a dead skunk.” Xavier says.
By now the old 70s song, Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road is stuck in my head. I sing it the rest of the way home.
Ta-da! That was my Saturday.