I love animals, but after three dogs and a string of cats over the years, this Mom is a little pet-weary. So last Saturday, when Miss Holly decided she wanted Hermit crabs, I suggested we go to the library to research them. You know, to see if they're difficult to feed and care for.
I had my fingers crossed, but no luck.
"Guess what they eat?" Holly asked. "Cookies," she announced, not waiting for my reply. "We'll be a perfect match!"
So now she has cookie-eating crabs.
And not one, but two. Seems the darned book also mentioned something about getting at least two, lest the one gets lonely.
I told her we would get them on her birthday, which is today, but she wanted to go to the pet store "just to have a look."
I should have known better.
Off we went and no one was more surprised than I by how irresistible they were. I caved and we bought them on the spot.
Trouble was, we were on our way to Noah's soccer game at the Sportsplex. I wasn't about to leave them in the car, so we brought them in with us. I doubt they appreciated the cheering crowd - or that time Noah's teammate, Chase, body-slammed the Plexiglas right in front of us during a tussle for control of the ball - but they huddled together in their box in Holly's lap and made the best of it.
They do make good pets, but our cat doesn't agree. Holly's bedroom door now bears a sign that reads, "No cats allowed!" Posey's bed (an old cardboard box bearing his name in crayon and a pillow dusted with cat-nip) has been relegated to the hallway, so he's reduced to peering at George and Bert (with the disdain of "Garfield") throught the heating vent. It's kind of hilarious.
Noah woke me up at 4 o'clock the next morning to alert me to the fact that he wanted hermit crabs, too.
"Can't you share?" I asked, my eyes still hopelessly closed.
"Not really, Mom. They're hers," he explained.
"But you named one. Doesn't that make it 'sort of' yours?"
He didn't think so.
Later, Holly lobbied on Noah's behalf. I finally opened my eyes.
"That's very sweet, Holl, but weren't they one of your birthday presents?" I asked, losing another parenting battle before my feet even hit the floor.
This wasn't going well.
So now we have two more hermit crabs, Fred and Roy, who live in Noah's room.
From what I hear these guys will outlive Posey and Jake, our sweet Golden Retriever, and will still be hangin' at the DuBose Ranch long after the kids leave for college.
Wow. So guess who will do most of the work? I think I can manage this, so long as they don't make me chase them, like Jake recently did.
Jake, my goofy boy, bolted past the two new plumbers I'd called for an estimate, to his best dog-friend Charlie's house. Again.
I have a history of pets who give me a run for my money, so to speak.
Posey, our Maine Coon kitty, is sorely miffed by his indoor-kitty status and lays in wait for any opportunity to slip out and run laps around the house through the snow.
I'm thrilled Spring is near. My sneakers will finally dry out.
But I'll never forget the time that Abby, the dear St. Bernard puppy we had years ago, stealthily sidled past me out the front door and bolted for freedom.
Months before, I'd dashed with her out the door after she squatted on the rug. Baby Holly, not appreciating my divided attention, ditched her diaper and climbed onto the dining room window sill and cried for me, while four-year-old Noah shouted demands for my internet password from an upstairs window.
I'm sure the neighbors were delighted.
So by the time Abby ran off, I was already accustomed to humiliation and thought nothing of grabbing a leftover Cornish Hen from the fridge, hoisting baby Holly up on one hip (lest she do a repeat performance on the window sill) and sprinting outside after my spirited dog. I stood in the middle of the street waving the hen over my head like a lunatic and begged Abby to return as she galloped down the street and out of sight.
Suffice it to say that I got her back, but to this day I can't remember how.
All I remember is the running. With Holly and the Hen.
Maybe it's a plot to get me to exercise.
Well, I'm on to you now, you pet-plotting exercise fanatics.
We finally have pets that don't run too fast, who apparently enjoy an occasional cookie. That makes this mom very happy.
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.