“Parenthood will take you all kinds of wild places,” my mom used to say.
And I thought of her words while bouncing my 1-week-old daughter on an exercise ball until my legs went numb. While chasing my 3-year-old down the aisle of Robert’s Fresh Market after she grabbed a handful of jelly beans from the bulk bin and ran. While trying to explain the finer points of potty-training to my 18-month-old, who was very proud of herself for peeing into her sister’s bowl of chicken fried rice. While saying, in all seriousness to a feverish and neurotic 7-year-old, cajoling her to take medicine, “Baby, I promise you that I will not let you die like Elvis.” While cheering my lungs out at a roller derby tournament in the Florida Panhandle. And, most recently, while learning the details of reptile husbandry.
For years, I told my kids we weren’t getting a dog. Then it became we weren’t getting a stinky dog. Or a dog that shed. Or a puppy.
So of course we welcomed Milo three years ago, a golden retriever-border collie-Husky mix … a 6-week-old puppy who grew up to be a dog who not only smells terrible but also sheds so much that I’m not sure how he isn’t completely bald. His hair has broken three vacuums so far.
Next they wanted a cat, and I said no way. I didn’t want to deal with hairballs and litter boxes and cats’ general attitude.
But when my mom asked if we could take her cat for just a few weeks while she was moving and getting settled into a new place, I agreed. And when she died about two weeks into this arrangement … well, then we had a cat.
Not satisfied with our dog and cat, Georgia began lobbying hard for a frog or a leopard gecko for her 10th birthday at the end of May. I said no. I said reptiles are gross, that they carry salmonella, that I don’t want one more thing to take care of.
Anyway, now we have Rex, a leopard gecko who eats mealworms and crickets and, apparently, roaches, although I 1,000 percent cannot bring myself to spend $2 on a roach at Petco when we already have way more roaches than I want making themselves at home here for free.
I’ve become fond of the animals over time: I adore the dog (the kids think I’m joking when I say he’s my favorite child, but I’m not), I tolerate the cat, and I even think the lizard is kind of cute.
Now Georgia says she wants a rat for Christmas.
I said absolutely not.
But I’ve said that before.
I’m sure I’ll be looking for rat care tips in January.