Opossum Playing Possum?

“Ummi! Ummi! We found an opossum!”

“Yeah! Yeah! It was bleeding, and …”

“It’s so big! Like this! Ummi…”

“Its ears, the tips are cut off, and …”

“The tip of its tail is cut off! It’s bleeding too!”

First of all, I don’t even know what an opossum is supposed to look like, and wondered how in the world these kids knew for sure it was an opossum. Second, I thought opossums only live in Australia. Third, is our neighborhood turning into a zoo?

The kids have a natural love for animals, especially S. I don’t know how and where she developed this love from, because I’m not an animal person, but I’m glad she developed it somehow. When the weather’s nice they would ask if they could play outside, and if the time is right, I would usually nod and give them permission. They know that in summer, the time between 12-3 pm is a no-no, as the sun’s at its zenith and the most damaging to the skin. So since the weather has been really nice alhamdulillah lately, they have been spending a lot of time outside.

When they come home, there’s always a new animal they had discovered.

“Ummi! We found a dead rabbit near the white house!”

“Ummi! There was a big cat!”

I’m beginning to worry about them finding carrions like these. Something sinister is going on in our neighborhood, at least in the animal kingdom, it seems to me. I keep telling them,

“Don’t go to close to the dead animals.”

Recently, they came home all excited, saying they found a beaver.

“A beaver?” I responded.

“Don’t beavers like near lakes? We don’t have lakes near here,” I continued.

Each time I would ask them how they know it’s that particular animal, especially when it’s beavers and marsupials like the opossum. Keep in mind, I don’t even know how these animals look like, necessarily.

They would however, churn out the details of the characteristics of each animals, practically laying out their evidences for their hypotheses.

“Well, it has those two front teeth! And we found a hole too!”

It was days later that I remembered that we do have a river nearby, thanks also to the kids’ keen observation of their surroundings.

“That hole must lead to the river!” they concluded.

If I was not restrained at home by a baby, and able to reclaim some of my childhood enthusiasm, I would have gone gallivanting with them on these curious and exciting animal adventures. Ahh…how wonderful it is to be a kid!

I keep telling them,

“You can write animal mystery stories from all these finds!”

The day before yesterday though, they came home and there was much ado about this opossum they found lying next to a bush.

“How do you know it’s an opossum?” I asked.

“Well, it has paws like a dog, small round ears, its tail is coarse, and it snout is long but piggish looking.”

Okay, that didn’t really convince me, but then again, I didn’t know what an opossum looks like, so I took their word for it.

The next day (yesterday), in the morning, they asked me if they could bring it home. Hubby and H had cycled past it on the way to the masjid the night before, and apparently it was still there. I said yes. A few minutes later, I was standing at the bottom of the stairs, front door open, and the kids were holding a box containing the opossum outside.

“I’m scared,” I admitted, as they excitedly beckoned me to come closer to see it.

They laughed. However, gingerly, I took a few steps forward and peeked, expecting to see something black and rattish. I tried hard to keep the oncoming shudders at bay. What I saw was cream colored coarse fur. It was big, like a cat. I could see it heaving, so it was still alive.

“Poor thing, ” I said, as we all concluded that it was cold.

I handed them an old sweater and they covered it with it, and placed the box at the door of the boiler room in our apartment block. Throughout the day, I could hear the front door being opened and closed more than 5 times as they dashed out to check on their opossum. And when they’re inside, they googled opossum, and learned about what it eats, what it can do and what it is not good at. I helped them google the wildlife rehabilitation center. We even called and I left a message. Meanwhile, we emailed hubby, telling him that we need to take it to the rehab center, but since he was busy, he told us to take it to the BV office instead and he emailed them about it.

Later on during the day, they bounded in and exclaimed,

“It’s moving! Scratching itself!”

“Hmm, so is it even injured?” I asked, worried that we have now transported an opossum that is probably playing possum.

“Well, its tail is still bleeding, and its ears too!” S reasoned.

It wasn’t until today that the wildlife rehab center returned our call, and just now, she told us to bring it in as it sounded like it was attacked by a dog.

Well, since hubby is busy, I suppose I will have to drive the kids to the wildlife rehab center later today, after my doctor’s appointment inshaallah. I’m not too excited at the prospect of bringing a wild animal in the van with four kids, considering the possibility that it might try to get out of the box and send a flurry of fleas on allergy-prone Baby Z.

Nevertheless, we found a wealth of interesting information on opossums on the internet as a result of our googling yesterday. Another one of those ‘learning experiences’ in our homeschooling journey.

Meanwhile, I will try to calm my incoming anxiety of driving to an unfamiliar place with a wild animal in the back. With the kids’ propensity towards actively looking for any animals they can find around here, what animal will it be next, I wonder.

April 11, 2008

S was 10, N was 9, H was 8, Z was 1

This is part of a series called ‘Been There Done That‘ where I share my old homeschooling blog posts. Each post will portray different aspects of homeschooling and show different days of homeschooling looked like for us years back. I have also evolved throughout the years with regards to my views and opinions. These old posts are as they were at the time I was penning them.


Juli Herman is a homeschooling mother of four children, two of which are now in college. While pursuing her BSc. in Computer Science, she had her first two children.  By the time she completed her final year, she was 100% certain of two things; stay home with her children, and rekindle her love of learning. As a bibliophile, Juli naturally instilled the love of reading to her children from a young age. Homeschooling became an obvious choice of education for her children as she read more about it. Through living a homeschooling lifestyle where love of learning is placed on a pedestal, she witnessed her children blossom into their respective areas of strength. Now that she has been homeschooling for over 19 years, she is glad she documented the journey on her homeschooling blog, which went through its own growth. Blogging has served as a great reminder of both the blessings and challenges of homeschooling to keep her going with the youngest child. Through it all, homeschooling has taught her a lot about the true meaning of tawakkul.

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