Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
The joke around my house is that my wife never reads my blog posts because I’m always writing about something esoteric like NSA spying, Net Neutrality, or OpenSSL vulnerabilities. When I asked what I should write about so she would read it, she told me “homeschooling”. So here goes.
Just as I fired up my Honda mini tiller (one of the greatest power tools known to man) last weekend, readying to plow the first bed of our garden, my wife discovered we had been left an Easter surprise. It seemed we would never reach the bottom of the hole as she pulled out one baby bunny after another.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
After much deliberation and Googling about what to do (at least 3 minutes worth), we determined it was not feasible to move the nest anywhere the mother would be able to find, and as we are “those crazy homeschoolers who live down the street”, decided to use this as a “learning experience” for the kids. It may have had something to do with the constant pleas and sad faces staring at us as we deliberated. Funny, just four days later I can’t seem to remember exactly what it is we thought they would learn.
And so, saved from 25cc of front tine carnage, the leporids (but not lepus) were happily adopted into the Clark family. The now giddy children were sent off to research rabbit care with my wife and I alternately yelling “They’re probably not going to live!” to dampen the euphoria. After all, part of education is learning about reality. I also made note of my love of hasenpfeffer, but that did not go over well.
The one thing I learned from their research is that there are actually people out there crazier than we are. Most of the “literature” on the topic of baby rabbit care warned against even trying but advised that if you must, you should get them to a “rabbit rescue” immediately. Paging Sarah McLachlan…
Off to the pet store we went since baby rabbits apparently have very finicky appetites. I didn’t know there was such a thing as “kitten milk replacer” or that I should be hoarding it instead of gold, silver, and bullets. At that price I’m surprised it wasn’t locked behind the counter with an armed guard.
I felt like we had regressed to our first child — feedings twice a day, warming milk in hot water, scheduling life around meal times, dirty spit-up rags, and pee and poop everywhere.
If you learn nothing else from this post it should be this: before their eyes are opened, you have to “assist” the kits in going to the bathroom after feedings by rubbing their nether regions with a wet cotton ball. I did not participate in this fun exercise, but did enjoy the cries of disgust from my kids as they were forced to. Isn’t teaching fun?
We’re down to nine bunnies now. We lost the runt of the litter, Lucky, the other night. The kids took it in stride and I was tasked with the burial duties. The last ones finally have their eyes opened now, so I think they will all survive, a fact which brings great consternation. What to do with nine rodents?
As I held one of the bunnies last night, water-boarding him with the milk from an eye dropper as he attempted to wriggle out of my hand, I was struck by the absurd yet also hilarious nature of what we were doing.
I realize that raising orphaned rabbits can be done by anyone (don’t tell the rabbit rescue people), but being a homeschool family meant it was nearly a foregone conclusion that we would from the instant my wife found them. Being a homeschool family means taking every small opportunity and expanding it into a full lesson. Of course content is important, but it’s also about teaching your children to love exploring, learning, and questioning.
Now some people think that homeschooling is just for the kids, but I learn things all the time too. In fact, I learned that if we ever find a bunch of baby rabbits in the garden bed in early spring it’s a sign that we’ll just mind our own business and buy tomatoes from the grocery store that year.