In the past month I have received two emails from Carter’s school alerting me that a cougar was sighted in a neighborhood near the school. His school is a fifteen minute drive from our house. The email went on to say:
We are taking necessary precautions at “insert Carter’s elementary school name here” such as increased awareness of supervisory staff during recess and lunch breaks and avoiding fields, playgrounds and parking lots that border wooded areas.
As I tell Husband about this, the boys, who can be in the next room but can hear our every word, pick up on our conversation. They come and peer over my shoulder at the email. I think to myself what a great time for a learning moment.
me: Now if you see a cougar you don’t want to run. You should slowly back away. Go to an adult or get inside a car or house.
cody: But mom, cougars are just people.
me: Very confused. Umm, no Cody, cougars are wild animals with big teeth and sharp claws that can hurt you. They are wild animals.
carter: If I see a cougars I will catch it and eat it!
me: Let me show you what a cougar looks like guys. I do a quick Google Image search for cougars. I should have known better…
Image number one:
Image number two:
Image number three (Ah, finally!):
In the five rows of pictures that pop up there are 20 large breasted, scantily clad women, 18 cougars scientifically known as felis concolor (just so we are all clear about what type of cougar I am referring to), one picture of a cougar cat with a man’s bloody decapitated head photoshopped in its jaws, and one picture of Jeff McCarragher who I learned is the director of broadcasting for the Cougar Sports network at the University of Charleston.
cody: Looking at the computer screen during the brief time I am frozen with shock at how inappropriate the images are for my boys to be looking at. See mom, I told you cougars were just people. They are fans.
A light bulb goes on over my head. I realize Cody is talking about college football fans, the Cougars and the Huskies. We are not sports fans here in the house of Wrong Feet in case you hadn’t noticed. I click on a picture of a cougar with some cubs.
carter: Ahhh, cougar are cute and fuzzy like ‘Lilah (Delilah, or ‘Lilah for short, is the cat who is not our cat but who has moved into our house and as such we feed her, clean her litter box, and occasionally vacuum her cat tower. A story for another day.) I will pick one up and hug it!
Oh dear, this learning moment is not going how I envisioned it would go. I click back to the images page to find a more fierce looking picture. Carter immediately begs me to click on a picture of a woman wearing a tight pink shirt that has the word Cougar scrolled in gold letters across her bosom. I have no idea why. I show them a few more pictures of scary looking cougars but they are loosing interest. I give up and help them into boots and jackets and send them outside to play.
In the warmth of my house, sipping a cup of coffee, I click on a link about cougar safety tips. The second tip is this:
Keep an eye on your children. Don’t let your children play unattended in the back yard, especially when cougars are known to be in the area.
Ooops. I start to feel like a bad parent until I read the second sentence more carefully. I go back to drinking my coffee confident that my children are safe – playing unattended in the front yard.