Playing With Fire…and Skunks!

After last week’s post about politics and different parenting styles, I started to think about about a story my husband tells. A story about how he once decided to have a skunk for a pet.

It takes place in a time when ideas about parenting were very different. He was in southern Arizona, around 10 years old, playing over at his grandparents house. He’d noticed that the old tool shed in the backyard had a skunk living under it. He’d figured out how he could catch that skunk and keep it for a pet.

With obviously free access to matches, he built a little fire under the tool shed to smoke the skunk out from underneath. He stood guard next to the shed with a pillowcase, ready to go.

It all worked perfectly. The fire smoked, the skunk exited — straight into the sturdy pillowcase. And there my husband found himself, with a furious writhing skunk and no clear next step. He realized that there were a few things that he hadn’t thought through.

Like, that skunks have this tiny little smelly thing they do.

Like how to get the skunk out of the pillowcase.

Like that fires under old tool sheds tend to go down in flames.

You can guess what happened next. He got thoroughly doused by the skunk. He dropped the pillowcase and the prized pet got away. He got to the hose in time and the tool shed, slightly blackened, survived. He received a tomato-juice bath from his grandmother.

Everyone in the family loves this story. We all laugh, but I have to say that inside, I still scream “Where the h*ll were the adults in this picture!!!”

I don’t know, but I do know that what happened next is something I can’t imagine ever being capable of.

What happened next?


Even with the charred evidence, not a word was said. About any aspect of it. Ever.

We assume Grandpa and Grandma had a good laugh about it privately, but Grandpa apparently figured his grandson had learned enough. No words needed.

And with that decision, he earned his grandson’s everlasting admiration.

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2 Responses to Playing With Fire…and Skunks!

  1. christine says:

    What a wonderful story and oh! how I wish I was given that upbrining and wish, at times, I could learn from my own experiences and not have others point out my faults and ride me on my mistakes…
    And to be a parent of two teen sons there have been plenty of opportunity to let them have their own learning examples without my voice. I will try harder…
    Thanks for the insight

    • growingmygirls says:

      Thank you! It’s so hard to loosen the reins on my kids, but they help me with that, lol. I’d love to learn from your experiences with teens, as I’m still trying to learn from this wise grandfather.

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