Every morning for the better part of the summer, my youngest little cherub wakes up (WELL before her sleepy brothers and sister) and asks the EXACT SAME QUESTION:
"Do we have any plans today?"
Immediately I know where this is headed. She wants to see if we can go to the pet store because she wants (and I quote), "An animal that has fur and legs and lives in a cage."
Before I go on, I need to confess to the greater reading public that I am and have always been deathly afraid of rodents. Okay, I know they won't actually kill me -- unless of course, said rodent harbors the hantavirus -- but I seriously dislike them. In fact, I've had nightmares over the years with rodents as the main antagonists. So, when my pint-sized daughter wakes before I deem humanly necessary in the lazy days of summer and badgers me straight out of the gates (when I'm still rubbing my eyes and sipping my coffee) for a gerbil or a hamster or a guinea pig or any other kind of RODENT, I don't usually have the kindest response.
We already have the cutest Yorkshire Terrier that's practically like having a real live Beanie Baby as a pet. Isn't that enough?
And I seriously thought I was a shoo-in for "world's best mom" when I said 'yes' to a fish. Unfortunately, the baby Beta Senait paid for with her own birthday money and housed in a little plastic bowl on her nightstand didn't last long. RIP, Lily.
Now she's going all Law and Order on me and seriously might be the next Johnny Cochran. Let me tell you, when this girl gets a bee in her bonnet she is a tenacious little pit bull!! Here are some of the arguments FOR said pet thrown my way:
(a) They don't hurt anyone, (b) They seriously don't DO anything, (c) I already have a name for it, (d) Fish really don't last long, (e) They're not dangerous, (f) You know I have dreams about getting pets, (g) I want to be like all my friends, they have pets...
But the REAL kicker is when she starts laying down actual Biblical principles for buying a rodent. Like (and again I quote):
"Mom, do you know the golden rule? Treat animals the way you want to be treated. How would you like it if you were stuck in a cage in a pet store with no family to call your own? Don't you want every pet to have a home? Don't you care about them??!!!"
Oh my goodness gracious! She seriously just pulled that card? Yes, people. Yes, she did. And the sad part is, I really don't care. About people, yes. Rodents, no. I'm pretty sure God designed rodents to live on their own. They shouldn't be in a pet store in the first place, for heaven's sake. Who was the first moron who decided that a field mouse should be a pet. I think it's called FIELD mouse for a reason. There is no verse in the Bible that says, "God puts the rodents in families."
Tears run down her cheeks. It's very sad...(ish). She claims she's not sad, she's "worse than sad." Cue the violins.
So, here I sit -- greatly disappointing my darling daughter. All she's ever wanted is a gerbil and I am crushing her dream. Part of me wants to laugh. Okay, a bigger part of me actually HAS laughed. But another part of me wonders if I'm being unreasonable.
Honestly, I really do wonder if she wants her "own" pet so badly because she has an insatiable need to be loved and needed and really would love to have control over even one hairy fraction of her life. With three older brothers and sisters and two hyper-engaged parents, she doesn't have control over much.
So, here's the question I have for you all --- Have your kids ever "badgered" you for something? Maybe a pet, maybe something else. What did you do? And, how did it turn out?
Hey! I'm teachable....I may not follow your advice, but I will listen and respect what you have to say.
PS -- The rodent's name would be "Sparkles." And, little known fact, "We should not judge rodents by what they look like on the outside. It's really what's on the inside that counts. And do you know what they look like on the inside? They look like us -- only smaller. And different. 'Cause everyone is different." (Yes, that really is another Senait quote. You can't fault the girl for trying! #FirstAmendmentForever.)
I must apologize in advance for being unable to address this in any way but sarcasm:
1 - I am sure Senait will assume all care and feeding and cleaning AND FINDING of Sparkles, the sweet little lovey.
2 - I have no doubt that this little darling new member of the family will be perfectly behaved and never be nocturnal so as to frustrate Senait by sleeping all day and running on her wheel all night.
3 - What do you call a hamster with a top hat? Abrahamster Lincoln
Now for the serious part. Having a child that is a persuader is a very real pressure on a parents' decision-making! I must admit that one of mine is SUCH a seller of plans and ideas that I often give in and the other is, well, just more laid back and therefore often doesn't get "the thing" as quickly as the other. I suppose admitting my weakness is a first step? But I also see that "influencing" ability as a wonderful later-in-life quality that may serve them well! Love having a peek into this conversation of yours. Senait just makes me smile. Good luck, mom & dad!
Would this be an inappropriate place to share one of my all time favorite quotes . . . "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone"? I say give the girl a rodent. If it doesn't work out, she'll never know if she left the cage open or if you left the cage open, right?????? Actually, I don't have any rodents here and my kids have wanted one. I keep finding the furthest present centered holiday - birthday or Christmas - and tell them, maybe they can put it on their list and by then, the desire for legos or make-up has trumped the rodent (or lizard).
It's funny that you mention badgering, though, because I just read a little parenting tip that arrived in my inbox on that very topic. My oldest girl is insanely badgery lately. The advice was to tell your child that you feel uncomfortable with it. I feel like a real tool saying, "I'm feeling very uncomfortable with your persistent questioning," as if I'm some professional parenter, but it has worked lately, believe it or not.
In summary, I can't wait to meet, "Sparkles."