I picked Elizabeth from school today as I normally do on Fridays (the bus doesn't get home in time to get to music class). We waved to her classmates, climbed into the car and then she casually said: "I got bitten by a squirrel at school today."
<CUE MAMA FREAKOUT> <INSERT VISIONS OF RABIES SHOTS ETC HERE>
"Really?" I said. "Where?" "On my leg", she said. I immediately started rolling up her trousers. "No silly" said Elizabeth. "It was on my thigh and my pants won't roll that high. But anyway it didn't hurt."
"What happened to the squirrel?" I asked. "Mr D picked it up by the tail and threw it in the garbage." "Was it dead? How could it bite you if it was dead?" I asked, my anxiety ratcheting up another notch. "It wasn't dead when it bit me. It got dead when Mr D put it in the garbage." she explained casually.
Alarming, right? I went back to the school, reluctant child in tow. Had she made it up? Was there in fact a squirrel?? Time to go locate a second opinion. At the school, teacher tells me that yes, there was a squirrel. It was a baby. Elizabeth and Adi were PETTING IT. She made Adi wash her hands, but Elizabeth didn't have to because she was wearing gloves. She was pretty sure that Elizabeth didn't get bitten, but asked "Est-ce que l'écureuil t'a mordu?" "Non" said Elizabeth clearly. The principal tells me that there had been a squirrel hanging around early in the day and so she'd follow it up because it was strange to have two. Teacher tells me that squirrel was released next door. There is no mention of it being dead in the garbage can. I'd checked that there was no visible bite mark and we're going to be late for music, so I decided to leave it at that.
In the car, I ask "Why did you tell Mommy the squirrel bit you, but you told your teacher the squirrel didn't bite you?" She answers "Mordu doesn't mean BITE Mommy". Oh.
I get tantalizing bits and pieces through repeated interrogation. I call Adi's mom and get a little more. All the kids were chasing the squirrel. The squirrel was hiding. Adi charmed the squirrel out of the hiding place by singing Frozen to it. Because that's how you charm dolphins in Florida. Then they could pet it. Then it ran over Elizabeth's criss-crossed legs. That's when Elizabeth thought it could have bitten her, but she did say she figured it was just trying to get away. Then Mr D grabbed it by the tail and Adi had to wash her hands. She didn't actually see what happened to the squirrel.
After music class, the neighbourhood kids gathered to play. My lovely neighbour works at CHEO and emailed one of the infectious diseases doctor there to see whether we should freak out. Turns out that in general squirrels do not carry rabies and there has never been a squirrel related case in Canada. Could worry about tetanus, but we already know Elizabeth is fine there, especially after last week's health shenanigans.
Well. I learned something today. We are sooo ready for the kids to be well.