Cute and adorable, but also dead

By Mir
October 4, 2005

It is a general rule of thumb that if you are the parent of a child with “issues,” you are not necessarily filled with joy when a teacher or other school official asks for your attention. I’m not saying that this is always an occasion for bad news… but it’s not always to tell you how great your kid is, either.


So this morning, the bus pulled up and I hugged and kissed Chickadee good-bye. The doors swung open and I heard the familiar greetings as the world’s greatest bus driver addressed each child by name. “Hey! Chickadee! No, wait… Chickadee’s MOM! C’mere!”

“Oh,” Chickadee looked up at me guiltily, “I think I left something on the bus yesterday.”

My mind raced with possibilities. What might she have left on the bus that the bus driver knew was hers? She’d come home with her backpack and lunchbag, so I knew it wasn’t either of those. Had she done something deliberately malicious? Or disgusting? I had a sudden memory of the smushed baggie of grapes she’d “forgotten” in the bottom of her last backpack. (RIP, stenchpack.)

I’d reached the bottom step of the bus, and the bus driver handed me a small ziploc bag. “Here ya go!” she said with a chuckle.

“Take it home for me, Mama, okay?” And it was with a mixture of relief and revulsion that I realized what I was holding.

Some second graders bring home paintings, or pottery, or beadwork. But if you’re my Chickadee, you bring home a dissected owl pellet.

Understand: I think the fact that 1) Mr. Wonderful has them learning about this stuff, 2) she’s fascinated by it, and 3) it’s so hands-on is GREAT! Absolutely fan-freaking-tastic! Right up until the point where I am handed a sandwich bag full of partially digested rodent corpses! At that point, my enthusiasm does wane just a tad. It may have something to do with the bits of fur still clinging to the teeny tiny little SKULL BONES.

Anyway. Chickadee went to school and I went on my merry way with a bagful of death. I confess that I left it in the car, and then this afternoon mustered my Most Excited Voice to suggest that Daddy would surely feel VERY left out if he was deprived of the owl pellet experience. Why yes, why not take that with you to Daddy’s and let him keep it, EXCELLENT IDEA! No, really, I don’t mind.

After dropping off the kids, I returned home. No sooner had I rid myself of Ye Olde Bagge of Predator Barf than I discovered an adorable little… thing… in my driveway. It was a mole. Or maybe a vole. Or maybe just a baby mouse in dire need of reductive rhinoplasty. I really don’t know. What I do know was that it was dead. This inch-long molevole was just lying in the middle of my driveway–not a mark on him–looking for all the world like he was sunbathing. I do not know where he came from, or why he’d expired. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with him; I couldn’t just leave him in the middle of the driveway. On the other hand, digging a tiny little grave and having a little molevole funeral was definitely not on my agenda for today. Eventually I opted for nudging him over into the grass with the toe of my shoe. I may have told him that at least he hadn’t been digested and reincarnated as a molevole carcassball.

Isn’t nature WONDERFUL?

Hey, speaking of wonderfulness and things that are dead…. (Wasn’t that a smooth segue? I’m good, I know.) In addition to allowing our children to delve into death and regurgitation, Mr. Wonderful feels that his students should periodically practice the lost art of communication via pen and paper. Today they were given the option of writing a letter either to him or to the classroom aide. Chickadee wrote a lovely letter, if I do say so myself. I’m sure you’ll agree.

Dear Mr. Wonderful1,
I like you as my secend grade teacher a lot. Can you please help me study my subtraction facts2, so I can master them. I like you bald better then with Hair. You are the best second grade teacher I ever had because you are the only second grade teacher I ever Had.
Chickadee Rose3 Lastname

1 Mr. Wonderful circles all spelling mistakes. He never crosses them out or even corrects them–just circles them. Which I think is cool.
2 Mr. Wonderful’s comment here: “Yup!”
3 Of course Chickadee’s middle name is Rose–not because she was named after my grandmother but because I’m pretty sure it was a federal law that all baby girls born that year take the middle name of Rose–and Mr. Wonderful drew an elaborate rose and wrote: “Beautiful work Chickadee Rose Lastname!”

I’ve already forgiven him for letting her take the owl pellet home. Do you think he’d like a molevole corpse?


  1. Jules

    Uhhm..has chickadee actually seen Mr. Wonderful with hair to have this knowledge of with vs without? I mean, I have some extra hair laying around here somewhere I’m sure I could spare if anyone would like to compare. ;)

    I’ve got some fresh owl butter…would you like to share?

  2. Chickie

    Chickadee could probably get extra credit by bringing in the molevole.

    Poor rodent. I think I know what kind of thing you found. I had a cat that would leave those weird looking things on the porch for us.

  3. Mike

    Ok, I’m sorry, but I find the whole owl pellet thing REALLY cool. Not something I would want in my home, mind you, but pretty friggin’ neat. Be happy you aren’t Teddy Roosevelt’s Mom–he apparently made his whole house stink of death with his junior taxidermist hobby!

  4. big-bad-ex

    owl pellets…sorry, I already have a dissected one here somewhere from the science museum this summer, so luckily you can keep yours!


  5. Fraulein N

    Hee, that’s brilliant, passing the “bagful of death” along to Daddy.

  6. ben

    So I’m reading about owl pellets and tiny skull bones and reeking of death. And I’m eating my breakfast, which is a fast food sausage and egg on a bun.

    But I’m ok.

    Then you mention a dead molevole, which you coldly kick to the grass rather than have a Reagan-esque viewing and televised celebration of passing, and I’m still eating my breakfast (which is a fast food sausage and egg on a bun).

    And I’m still ok.

    Then you get to the bit about writing. With paper. And I’m thinking — what the hell is wrong with their WiFi? What are we paying all these tax dollars for?

    But, then I found my coffee, and I’m ok again.

    Can’t wait for your next “entry of death.”

  7. dad

    “Ye Olde Bagge of Predator Barf”! Chaucer would be proud, as would Chicadee’s grandmother(after she finished gagging).

  8. Colleen

    LMAO…good post. I work with wild birds and I love the owl pellets. I think it’s amazing how tiny the skeltons of mice and such really are. (But I guess I’m in the minority here! LOL)

    I would have been a little grossed out by the dead vole thingie too…like grossed out wondering how I was going to pick it up.

    I like Chickadee’s letter, especially the part about her liking him better without hair.

  9. Melanie Lynne Hauser

    Mr. Wonderful sounds – well, wonderful. And I remember the owl pellet dissection from my kids’ grade school years. Although they never brought the stuff home!!

  10. Carrie

    Owl pellets already? I thought those were reserved for high school. In my bio class we had to boil up a pellet and then put the bones together into a skeleton model. My mom made me go buy my own pan.

  11. Carrie

    Owl pellets already? I thought those were reserved for high school. In my bio class we had to boil up a pellet and then put the bones together into a skeleton model. My mom made me go buy my own pan.

  12. madness

    I GOT THE SAME BAGGIE FROM MY DAUGHTER. My daughter who likes surgery shows and went to the doctor with my husband to see his staples removed from knee surgery.

    Brilliance is a brewin’ here, for you and for me.

  13. elswhere

    I knew Chickadee and Mermaid Girl were alter egos! and now I have proof: MG’s middle name is Rose too, since that was *my* grandmother’s name.

    Since Mermaid Girl’s first name is very common too (I kept hitting “refresh” on the Social Security Names site, hoping it would somehow drop out of the top 5) we gave her a second middle name. Which is also the name of a Disney character. Drat.

    [/hijacking comments section]

    *ahem* So, lovely owl pellet post. As they once said on The West Wing: thanks for loading me up with that image.

  14. Shiz

    Is Mr. Wonderful taken, or is that too squick?

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