Three days a week, Brynn attends preschool at a pre-K to 8th-grade school nearby. And every morning, we arrive late.

Not just a few minutes late. But Late, like… the carpool people are long gone, the school doors are locked and the front desk person has to buzz us in.

It’s not a big deal — Brynnzilla is three for Christ sake. It’s not like she’s late for geography class or something. And the lady in the office has been cool; she waves a hand toward Brynn’s class and checks her name on the attendance list. 

But a couple weeks ago, the school lady buzzed us in and handed me a square of turquoise paper.

It was a tardy slip.

It’s official, Brynn’s got a record. 

After collecting a few blue slips, I made a conscious effort to deflect them. Not by waking up earlier, but by justifying our delayed arrival. I used the typical reasons. Traffic woes — with a rural spin.

Sorry we’re late, we got stuck behind a combine.” Or “We got stuck behind a hay truck.” Or a tractor. Really, any mobile farm implement is plausible.

I’ve used the absent-minded parent approach.

I forgot her lunch; we had to go all the way back home…

And there’s always the sympathy card.

Brynn’s CF treatment took longer than usual.” (Which often is accurate; Brynn is a beast about wearing her vest for treatment.)

But this morning when we arrived 20 minutes late, I didn’t bellyache about a fictitious traffic snag or car trouble. I stated fact.

We had to shoot a rabid raccoon by the mudroom before we could leave the house.

“By all means, go on up,” the front office lady said, gesturing toward the classrooms. It was a solid excuse. Rabid raccoon is well beyond the realm of creatively-conjured delays. And my disheveled appearance and Brynn’s mop of bed-head hair confirmed a morning of disorder.

It was a truthful tale. My only embellishment? The use of “we.” We did not dispatch the raccoon. We prodded the raccoon with a pitchfork, surmised it was alive and crazy-angry, and then we summoned the neighbor. He kindly drove down and did the deed.



Don’t be fooled — this guy was neither cute nor harmless. Photo snapped using a long lens.


Credit also goes to Maisie, who alerted me to the problem. I missed her first cue; when I walked outside just after sunrise, I actually yelled at her to “leave it,” (whatever “it” was) and follow me to the barn. But when we got back to the house, without provocation Maisie thrust her snout between the deck railings and violently snapped her jaws. I peered over the side and spotted the raccoon, huddled by the mudroom, under the dog-door ramp. He was not friendly and not healthy.




So, good job, Chet. Well done, Maisie.

But dammit, I’m running out of tardy excuses. Dangerous rabid raccoon?

That’s a tough one to recycle.