Any parent can tell you, at some point in time, your child will ask for a pet. Farm kids tend to have a tougher go on this, because woe to the child who becomes enamored with the animal destined for food production. It’s a harsh lesson, which leads to broken hearts for everyone involved.
Sometimes, the desired creature can be something so innocent, that it is endearing. I consider inchworms, toads, lightening bugs and wooly worms or “caddapillers,” as our son Sparky calls them, to fall in these categories. They are pets for a day, observed closely via an improvised cage, then set free to complete their life cycle.
Other requests are not so awesome. The Hubs and I have an agreement, no reptiles or rodents. He loathes anything cold blooded and I have issues with anything rat-esque, which could potentially escape and multiply in the house. Having a cage to clean does not rack up bonus points with either of us.
So, it was a bit of surprise when our son Sparky announced he wanted a pet. Since he had been chasing the cats for 20 minutes at that point and had wrestled with the dog earlier in the day, I was taken aback with this announcement. We pointed out, he already had numerous animals, which he could lavish his affections upon. He rolled his eyes and explained he wanted a “real pet”. I was fully expecting him to respond he wanted a tyrannosaurus rex or a stegosaurus when we asked him what he meant. Sparky threw both of us off our game when he proclaimed, he wanted a mouse so he could name it “Mickey”.
Since he had recently witnessed mommy reacting poorly to the discovery of a small-ish rodent in the chicken’s scratch grain for several days in a row, I was surprised he wanted one of these things as a pet. I personally thought it would be a frosty day in an extremely hot locale before we willingly housed one of these things in the house, even as the hubs was asking if he would consider a hamster. I also nixed that suggestion by pointing out we had three housecats who would find such a creature a tasty treat, and there is no way I was going to clean that cage.
The Hubs and Sparky continued a debate about possible additions to the household, even as I kept vetoing suggestions. I just don’t believe four years is old enough to be the sole caretaker of an animal, especially since I am certain to be the default zookeeper. I thought the matter had been settled after a thorough discussion of options including pros and cons. Stupid me.
The next day, Sparky called me while I was at work, bellowing at the top of his lungs that he had a fish. Uhm, okay. Turns out the Hubs and he had taken a quick trip to town and purchased a set up for a Betta fish. The fish they brought home is a lush red and of course, he is named “Fred”. Fred may possibly embody the perfect attitude of boredom, which comes from any creature consigned to living in a toddler’s bedroom.
He sort of just stays suspended mid-tank, not really moving, or doing anything. Sparky thinks he is brilliant. His most amazing feat so far has been to have a trail of poop hanging off of him. Sparky thinks this is cool and asked if he could do that too. His disappointment when told that was not an option was obvious. He was equally sad when he was told that “Fred” would not like a bath, nor would he be keen on a car ride in a toy UPS truck.
We are doing our best to ensure Red Fred has a decent lifespan with minimal trauma, which considering Sparky was showing him pictures of prehistoric sharks, might be a bit of stretch. Thankfully, Fred probably has an IQ in the single digits which will help prolong this case of guppy love.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.