Somewhere around 11pm Zion leaked his diaper requiring a full costume change and much screaming. Somewhere around 3am Harvey stood in our doorway and said, "Mama come in my bed" and because I was fully passed out and hearing it through the deepest sleep it was like the loudest sound in the universe, like an asteroid exploding in our bedroom. Harvey was also wet and needed new pajamas.
I had gotten him into a clean diaper when I heard a terrible animal screech outside. It sounded like that scream people attribute to a fisher but that the drumlin farm naturalists swear comes from a raccoon. (They say no one can verify that fishers scream, which sounds like lazy science to me. They have a fisher in captivity and no raccoon.) It sounded as if it could have been right under the window. It screamed again. "Something's attacking the chickens!" I yelled and flew downstairs leaving a half-naked Harvey on the bed.
I ran to the back door, jumped into my boots and threw on the outside lights. Outside the door I saw... nothing. The coop and the yard was quiet. Suddenly reason caught up with me. If there is a raccoon, why am I running at it headlong and empty handed? I need a bat or something. I thought of grabbing the cast-iron skillet before remembering I can barely lift the thing onto the stove.
By this time Dan was downstairs putting a collar on Rascal. He also grabbed a broom. Get the dog and something hitty, that man can actually think at 3am.
We all headed out to the yard, but nothing was screaming anymore. The chickens were locked up tight and sleeping, three on the roost and one in the nesting box. In retrospect I hadn't heard any clucking, which would have been a better indication of a chicken attack. The scream could have come from behind our property or from the woods across the street. Rascal sniffed around the fences, but didn't find anything to fight.
I walked over to Dan who still had broom in hand. The night air was very quiet. "Let's live outside," he said. "It's peaceful out here."
"Oh well," I replied. "Back to changing Harvey's sheets."
Thankfully Harvey was not at all frightened by the excitement. "Was it a dog?" he said when I came back in his room.
"No, I think it was a raccoon," I said. "But anyway the chickens are fine."
"Oh. I thought it was a dog," he said cheerfully. It's funny what sorts of things do and don't freak out this kid.
As I lay in Harvey's newly made bed cuddling him to sleep, I got to feeling a little ashamed of my cowardice. Why did I stop at the doorway? Because I saw nothing? Because my fears got the better of me? I'd like to think if there was a raccoon, if I had stepped outside into a gruesome war-zone, I'd like to think my adrenaline would have carried me running pellmell at the beast. I'd like to think I'd do something courageous and brilliant like grabbing the metal rake by the chicken coop and beating the animal from a sensible distance.
The more I parent, though, the more I think that courage is just practice disguised as confidence. That and pure adrenaline. I wonder which it was for king David, who I also thought about while I was lying awake in Harvey's bed. Here he is speaking of Goliath:
But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine." -1 Samuel 17:34-37
Oh, right, he probably had a little bit of faith too.
(An aside: how do YOU find quotes in the bible? Does anyone go, "Hmm, I think this is in Samuel. I'll just flip through and if not I'll look in Kings." I am wondering if the age of memorize verse numbers is coming to an end as our smart phones get quicker at opening up a bible app. I googled "Your servant has slain both the lion and the bear" and voila.)