Saturday, February 28, 2015


Every parent faces this moment at some point in their parenting career. We all dread it, fear it, and maybe, if we're really honest with ourselves: we look forward to it. Your young child looks at you with great longing, sighs, and says tearfully from the depths of their soul, "I wish I had a pet."

You can't breathe for a second. You fight with your own childhood baggage; how quickly you can go back to that time in the 2nd grade when a bunch of your friends had hamsters in their rooms, their very own rooms! and your dad proclaimed, "No rodents! Ever!"

You want to rush immediately to the pet store and purchase whatever little critter your child desires. You can imagine the delight on their small, upturned face. The joy! The responsibility beginning to bloom in their life! The lessons they'll learn! The-

And then you return to the actual present moment. You look around your five-year-old's room and notice things. Toys strewn all over the floor, pieces of half-eaten bagel squirreled away and stale as a rock. The fact that the child in question has been wearing the same pair of shorts in zero degree weather for the last 3 days; bedtime included. It dawns on you that YOU will likely end up doing most of the work, and even if you manage with all your parenting skill to groom your child into one who cares for their own little pet; even this tutelage will pull from your essentially non-existent energy stores.

Your next thought is, "Hell, no. No pets." Then you remember that you are getting a dog in about a year. You offer this dog as a consolation prize, but your typically developing five year old knows the dog is not a pet; the dog is slated for work for his older sister and he counters with this knowledge.

You feel stuck; most of this child's life has been spent taking his siblings to appointments, therapy, activities, things that are all orchestrated for them, and he has never actually complained in any way. You feel like, maybe a little pet would allow him to have a corner of something that is his alone. So you ask.

"What sort of pet would you like?" And the volley begins.
"A cat!" he returns.
"Well...a cat is not a good choice for our family because daddy would never breathe again."
"A dog!" he suggests.
"We're already getting one, and besides...they are a lot of work," I demure.
"Maybe...something small?" he ventures.
"No rodents. Ever," The voice of my father enters the conversation through my mouth. Incredible how that happens.

"What would you feel about a reptile? A nice turtle that lives in a small, glass cage and eats lettuce? I could handle helping you with that."
The child furrows his brow. "Mmm. No. Too slow."
"A frog?"
"Too bouncy."
"A lizard! That...doesn't eat live bugs. Maybe we could find one that doesn't eat bugs."
"A venomous one! I would like a venomous lizard!" He is triumphant.
"I is not...the best choice...."
"A Gila monster! I would like a Gila monster!"
"What do they eat?" I feel much trepidation.
"Just road runners," he replies simply.

he's probably really gentle. and legal to own.

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