I grew up in a household under the reign of my mother, who doesn't have much love for living things, other than her garden and people. Maybe in that order, depending on the day. Brandon grew up in a household where you fed things in order to eat them later.
I always swore to my mother that when I was old enough I would get a dog. It would be big. It would be hairy. And I would let it sleep in my bed. That's fine, she would reply, it will be your problem, not mine.
Then I married Brandon and the first four years of our marriage were filled with vast unknowns, and I never got that dog. Something tells me that even if I had, Brandon might have tried to eat it.
So instead of pets, we had children.
After awhile, those children started asking about pets. Those of you who don't live your lives according to baggage allowances and weight limits and six-week 'vacations' in the US may never have given a thought about traveling and moving with pets, but we have. For about the first and only time ever, children are actually easier to move with than pets. They don't have to get vaccines. They don't have to be chipped (although maybe that might be a good idea...). They don't have to be quarantined. And State pays for their tickets.
So we set out a firm policy for pets: the children could get a pet when they're eight. And it couldn't be warm-blooded, as transporting reptiles, fish, and amphibians across international lines on international flights is difficult enough (maybe you can't even do it?) that the pet will just have to be passed on when we leave.
After Sophia asked if crocodiles were warm-blooded, we added one more rule: they can't get any longer than two feet.
So we were pretty much home-free until the next post. No pets this go around.
Right after our return from R&R, my housekeeper mentioned that the rabbit at her house had babies. Being a closet animal lover, I squealed with delight. Did I want some? she asked. Yes! Of course I did! I would love little bunnies to hold and pet and... I thought of Brandon, and dinner. "Maybe," I told her, "I'll have to ask my husband."
I asked Brandon. No. I needed to tell Naila no, they were going to be too much trouble. And what would it say if, after repeatedly outlining the rules - no warm-blooded animals, and not until you're eight - we got warm blooded animals when Kathleen was only six?? We are parents, and we need to stick to what we've said. It sends a bad message otherwise. So go tell Naila that we definitely do not want those bunnies.
Now I'm a good wife. Well, I try to be. Really hard. Most of the time. I swear.
But bunnies? Little soft, cuddly, big-eared bunnies? And they're not so hard to keep as pets - Naila just kept them in her backyard and fed them vegetable scraps and had a house for them in the winter. See? No cages to clean out, no shots. And the girls would love bunnies. It would be good for them to have something to take care of.
So maybe I didn't say anything when Naila mentioned that the bunnies were almost big enough to be brought over. And when she asked if I wanted a girl and a boy, I might have said just two girls please and forgotten to tell her not to bring any at all.
But I didn't know exactly when she was planning on bringing the bunnies, and I really kept meaning to tell her not to bring them. But when she showed up with two bunnies one morning, it was too late. The bunnies were already there. How's that for sticking by your guns?
Any thought of school was immediately abandoned and everyone headed outside to
harass look at the bunnies. Kathleen claimed the larger bunny and pronounced her "Pet," after Laura Ingall's pony. It didn't matter Kathleen had already named her toy horse Pet. The bunny was named Pet too. Sophia decided hers would be named Beauty. After awhile, she decided to name her bunny after Harriet, the cat I had growing up.
Throughout school and the rest of the day, the girls would go outside to check on their bunnies. Were they eating? Were they drinking? Do you think they'd let us pick them up?
I emailed Brandon and confessed my sins.
His reply: "Er…um…I thought we weren’t doing warm blooded animals? What are we going to feed them? How are we going to keep them from getting eaten by cats? Brandon"
When he came home that night, we went outside to observe the first of many parental backslidings. They were gone. Our yard isn't very big, and is more of a large patio with fir trees and a mudpit surrounding it, so I wasn't exactly shocked that they had decided to get out of there and look for greener pastures. Or any pastures.
It's been a few weeks since the bunnies escaped and we see them every now and then, having continuously escaped the semi-feral cats roaming the neighborhood. Some of the neighborhood children have even caught Pet and returned her to us, but she hopped back through the wrought-iron fence and back to her new home. The girls are disappointed and talk about somehow luring the bunnies back to our yard, but I think we all know it's not going to happen.
So I think that I've learned something about pets. No pets until children are eight. Nothing warm-blooded. And get something that lives in a bowl. Because it's not going to try and run.