I should start carrying dog bones in my purse.

I have spent the entire summer not blogging. Not because nothing has happened to me, but rather because too much has happened to me. Falling into a pile of tedious wedding planning and overwhelming traveling did nothing to spark my creativity, but rather mushed it down into a pile of boringness that has sat inside of me for a couple of months.

I’ve been waiting for that One Thing, that super exciting, very entertaining moment to happen to me that I would know instantly was blog-worthy. And it happened tonight: I, Lacey Danielle Hochstetler, became a Mama Bear.

To understand the story, you have to understand the setting and characters. So, I present you with the facts:

The Setting: For the last two nights I have been helping provide childcare at a local church while they have revival. Another girl, Diana, has been my partner.

The Characters:

Topanga: an 8-year-old little girl who is already very confident in her mothering skills. She declared herself one of the babysitters, and busied herself most of the time with babysitter-ish duties, like dispensing Goldfish crackers and juice.

Peyton: Topanga’s sister. A 7-year-old little girl with equally strong desires to be a little mother; prefers to hold the tiny baby in the room and “rock her to sleep” (which, in this case, could translate to “viciously bounce her up and down until Lacey interferes).

Rave: the third member of this sibling trio. A rambunctious 4-year-old boy who likes to yell, crash toy cars into things, and not listen to Lacey.

Jude: approximately three years old; likes to keep to himself. Doesn’t play much with the other kids, but prefers to busy himself with assembling the Noah’s Ark set in the corner of the room.

Christian: approximately one year old. Walks, but still in the “toddling” stage. The most chill, content kid I’ve ever seen. Deals with Topanga’s and Peyton’s mothering attempts like a pro.

Miriam: Jude’s little sister… still a baby in arms who likes to spit up a LOT.

It was Wednesday night, and the last night of revivals. The kids were really restless and really wanted to play outside. So, Diana stayed inside to make baby noises and continually wipe spit off of Miriam while the rest of us made our way to the great outdoors (Christian in a walker, with Topanga proudly pushing him).

Upon exiting the building, Jude & Rave made their way quickly across the small field that was separating us from the playground. Not wanting to desert Christian for fear he would be dumped out of the stroller amidst the efforts to push it across so much grass, I lagged behind with the girls. We were not halfway across the field when a slice of light cut through the sky.

“Lightening!” yelled Topanga.
“Yes,” I said, looking around and realizing that we were standing in the middle of a field with nothing but metal playground equipment nearby. I don’t know much about lightening behavior, but I knew enough to feel uncomfortable. The feeling was only reinforced when I made the sudden discovery that Rave was TERRIFIED of lightening. He came flying back across the field, eyes wide and arms flailing, shrieking incomprehensibly and pointing to the sky.  I made the announcement that we were going BACK inside and then sprinted to the playground to peel Jude off of the slide. His resistance was one of the first times he had ever bothered to communicate with me, but just before I was able to feel glad that he was speaking, Topanga yelled.

“DOG!” I heard her scream.
I spun around. She wasn’t kidding.
Standing nearby, watching us, was a REALLY BIG DOG.
It was at least as tall as my shoulders, pure white, with tall, pointy ears. Now that I consider it, the ears should have clued me in that it was a Great Dane, but since Topanga was screaming that it was a bulldog, my mind accepted that as a good suggestion and ran with it.

I froze and surveyed the animal, trying to decide if it was a good guy or bad guy. Was it simply a nice dog taking an evening stroll who stopped to watch the odd looking family on the playground? Or was it a vicious hunter looking for dinner, stopping to watch it’s six courses trip around in a field trying to escape? I quickly decided that my best course of action was to assume the worst. So, I did what any cool, collected, professional babysitter would do. I turned to the kids and screamed, “RUN!”

Topanga took off, pushing the stroller as fast as she could through the grass.
Christian sat in the stroller, calm and unblinking, as he got the ride of a lifetime.
Tears began to squirt out of Peyton’s eyes, and she ran towards me instead of the church.
Rave picked a handful of grass and threw it towards the dog.
“Don’t do that!” I told him. “You could make it mad!” Then, turning to Peyton, “Run to the CHURCH! Not to ME!”
The poor, terrified girl started running in circles.

It suddenly registered that Jude was behind me. Knowing that Jude was to that dog as a potato chip is to Chuck Norris, I backtracked and ran to get him. Realizing that he was clueless about what was happening, I tried to keep my tone excited and upbeat.
“Jude, let’s run!” I said, offering him my hand.
He looked at my hand disgustedly and took off at full speed, determined to avoid the awful fate of holding my hand. I didn’t care WHY he was running, just that he WAS running, so I followed.

At that moment, the dog took off running, too. He ran at an angle, towards the mayhem that was us, but cutting us off from the church at the same time. Peyton’s tears squirted harder, and she began shrieking things about teeth and dying, while Rave froze in place and Topanga almost tipped the stroller over in her panic. Christian didn’t even blink.
At that moment, more adrenaline rushed through me at once than I have experienced in a VERY long time. I think I MAY have felt something similar, once, when I was driving on icy roads in Kentucky and lost control for a couple seconds.

With all the ferocity of a mama bear watching her cubs getting chased by a lion, I clenched my fists and screamed at the animal: “NOOOOO!”
It was loud enough, I’m sure people in Texas looked around to see what the fuss was about.
The dog stopped short and looked at me indignantly, then returned to his original spot where he coolly watched the rest of the drama play out.
Peyton and Rave closed the gap between them and the church in about half a second. Peyton wrenched the door open and took off down the hall, still screaming, with Rave hot on her heels. Jude clambered in behind them. Topanga had run the stroller into a hole in the ground, and was obviously torn between a). throwing her body over Christian’s to courageously protect him, and b). running away at full speed, leaving Christian as an appetizer.

I didn’t give her time to decide. I swooped in and picked up the whole stroller, kid and all, and yelled for Topanga to get inside. She didn’t argue. I ran awkwardly for the building, trying to watch over my shoulder since I was uncomfortable with turning my back on the dog. Christian seemed only mildly interested at his sudden change in altitude.

We finally made it to the door, and I practically threw the stroller inside and followed quickly, slamming the door behind me.

The entire group rolled into the door of our classroom, a mix of tears and moaning and explaining to Diana what had happened.
The sudden decrease in adrenaline and panic left my body quite confused, and I dealt with it the way I often deal with stressful situations; I leaned against the doorframe and burst into laughter. The kids looked at me like I was loony. Diana wiped spit off of Miriam’s face and asked what on earth happened.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the One Thing that has occurred to me this summer that has sparked a blog. Aren’t you glad?



  1. Lacey Hochstetler, I love you so much! While reading this I couldn’t believe that it was MY friend who had such an incredible adventure! I don’t know how you managed it!

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