My daughter’s preschool periodically sends home the class owl named “Hootie.” He comes with a notebook and instructions to please add photos and a journal entry about all of the fun he has with your family. Since my daughter is 4 and cannot read, write, or pick up pictures from Walgreens, Hootie, while a fun concept, is largely just a homework assignment for me and pressure to look like we are “having fun” and “doing things.”
The first time Savannah brought Hootie home, we lost him. For like a week. I eventually found him hidden under the couch with several dog toys. I was just grateful that he still had eyes. Most of Hootie’s journal entries are lovingly crafted recaps of family leisure time with pictures of smiling children taking Hootie to church or posing with a fishing pole at their grandpa’s pond. ‘Here we are sharing an organic banana milkshake after a long day of helping the homeless!’
Savannah ended up with this:
Last Friday when she brought Hootie home again, I had every intention of redemption. I even took a few pictures on my phone thinking we would devote the weekend to keeping Hootie safe from the dog and staging photo opps showcasing what an amazing
mother I am weekend Savannah and Hootie had together. Then she accidentally left him overnight at the neighbors house. This is why we can’t have nice things. Last night I realized that again, I failed to collect any pictures for Hootie’s journal entry.
So here, saved for posterity (typed for ease of reading) is what Savannah took to preschool today for her teacher to read to the class, hand-scrawled across almost five pages. I have to think someday she will look back at this and good or bad, it will explain a lot.
4/15/18 – I had that dream again. The one with the wild-eyed squirrel. Why does he taunt me so? This time he was perched high in a leafless tree, the wind swirling as the creek water rushed beneath a bland, sunless sky. We locked eyes. His stance belayed a silent intensity that chilled me to the bone. With an unbroken gaze, we held our posts. Suddenly in the distance, sirens.
I awoke in a strange, but vaguely familiar room. The sirens from my dream faded into the chime of a cellphone alarm as the first light of morning flooded through the slats in the blinds. As I lay staring up at the ceiling, a quiet but desperate voice inside me whispered “danger…” then louder, “Beast.”
Immediately, I realized I was back at Savannah’s house. I jolted up in bed, my eyes frantically darting around the room trying to spot the white beast they call Mr. Biffles. He was nowhere in sight, but his scent hung in the air. I feared he’d gotten even larger since he last captured me, taking me hostage and forcing me to live in a pile of filthy eye-less toys and raw hide bones until I was finally rescued.
Savannah woke up and I felt comfort when I saw her smile. As if she read my mind, she said to me, “Don’t worry, Hootie. This time I’ll keep you safe up high.”
I still saw the Beast from time to time, but from way up high he wasn’t so scary. I heard people say he’s cute, but I know better. He’s a monster.
The weekend was a whirlwind of activities including a sleepover at the neighbors house. We watched The Greatest Showman. I’m thinking of becoming a circus owl. Or maybe star in a nature documentary. If only I weren’t so afraid of animals.
All in all, I’ve realized something about myself this past year: no matter where I go or what happens to me, I am a survivor. Somehow I always find my way back to my classroom home safe and sound.