On Friday Georgia went to her friend Natalie's house to play. When we called to say we were on our way, Natalie's mom told us that the girls found an empty robin's nest with a young robin in the bushes below, hobbling around. Georgia caught it and was ecstatic. Two years ago the kids found a dying bird and the girls adopted it until it died an hour later. She still talks about that bird. In fact, when she was "Star of the Week" at in her 2nd grade class this year, the major thing she talked about was her "pet bird Joey." It took me a while to figure out that she was not making it up, but referring to that dying sparrow from 2006. So finding this robin was major. Driving over, I told Dave she could keep for a day or two and try to nurse it until it could fly (or die). But when we got there, they'd already let "Barry" go. When Dave told her we would have let her hang onto it, she crumbled. Georgia doesn't throw fits. Millie throws fits the way Dice-K throws baseballs, fast and frequent. So when Georgia has a meltdown, I take serious note.
When we got home she sat in the kitchen crying, "All I want is a pet. Just a pet of my own. Could I please just have a goldfish? You can get rid of it if I don't take care of it." She was so rational about it. Millie, on the other hand, had to join in on the "all I want is a pet" bandwagon and was soon sobbing at my feet, "I just want a pug! Just a pug! Maybe two!! Is that too much to ask?!"
That night, I made Dave get on the interwebs and scout out easy pets. Those of you who know me well know that I HATE pets. Well, I dislike pets; I HATE dogs. I've relented a few times: Jonah kept a pet spider for ages; we had brine shrimp (3 year old Georgia accidentally dumped them down the drain to which 6 year old Jonah replied, "You murderer, you murderer. You killed my sea monkeys."); a beta fish & a translucent water frog; and two geckos, Sticky I & II. And I don't have good luck. Every pet we've had has died. And once, Jen T. was moving and needed me to fish sit for 3 days. THREE days. I killed it. We still can't talk openly about Sticky without me or Jonah crying.
So we start going down the list. Fish? Too cold blooded & too much murky water. Cats? Dave & I actually love cats but then some of our allergic friends could never visit, thank you very much Sande, Bret & Andrew! Hamsters? Nocturnal and I can't take that "whir whir whir" on the wheel at night. Snakes. Dave is always advocating snakes but I just can't do it. I let Jonah keep a garter snake for a week and had bad dreams the whole time. Besides, I need an herbivore. I hated having to go buy crickets and try to keep them alive too. Birds? Dave, the birder, says, "No way. They're loud, nasty creatures." Then Dave comes across a website that touts the attributes of Gerbils. I resist making a Richard Gere joke and listen as he informs me they are not nocturnal, their cages need cleaning only once a month as they rarely pee, they could live in a certain gecko's old tank, they are pretty cheap, and they like to live in pairs. One for Georgia, one for Millie.
We bought two sisters at the local pet shop and spent the rest of the day considering names. Georgia's is white, and after nixing "Snowball" she settled on "Cotton." Millie let Jonah name it "Ginzilla," but can't remember the name so she started calling it "Georgia" but I am calling it "Minky" because it looks and feels like a mink with it's dark silky coat.
Dave has been the good guy through all this, telling the girls they could get a pet, setting up the tank. And I've been the rule setter. I swear I am scarred from reading Steinbeck's "Of Mice & Men." Every time I see a kid "loving" a little critter too hard (be it a puppy or a newborn) I think "Oh No! It's Lenny!" and start to panic (I've been told there's a similar scene in "Tommy Boy"). So I tell the girls the gerbils need some space at first to adjust to their new home, not to hold them much the first day or two, and not to let them down as they run fast and once hidden, will most likely be gone forever. So I come into the girls' room to find Millie has Minky in the Barbie house and is trying to make it pretend to cook. And Georgia is watching a movie with Cotton, letting it skitter around the bed. Mean while Bea is obsessed with the "mice" and keeps trying to get them out of the tank. AHHHH. What was I thinking?
This morning Minky got her revenge. Millie was mauling I mean holding her and trying to make her climb up her fingers and Minky sank her teeth into Millie's thumb. Millie started to bleed and freak out as much from "owie feelings" as anything else. She works herself into such a fit that she barfs. Like a Victorian herion who dies of heartache, Millie vomits from rodent betrayal.
Thankfully tomorrow is school and those little sweet sisters will get a break from the big not so sweet ones. I'm gonna rue the day.