5 animal species you’d be OK with raising your child

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter Viva, who would like to be raised by wild unicorns in a Lisa Frank forest.

There are a lot things that weigh heavily on the mind of a preschooler, from monsters in the closet and social anxiety at school, to the “The Purge: Election Day” trailers YouTube puts on before “Aladdin” music videos. (Seriously, watch out for the Internet. It’s evil.)

My daughter, Viva, is currently worried about being raised by animals, given the current hype around live-action versions of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” and the reboot of “Pete’s Dragon,” which involve young boys being raised by a jazz-infused Kipling menagerie and an animated dragon, respectively. Viva is relatively sure she will, at some point, be raised by animals instead of by her mother and I. Make your own judgment as to which scenario is in her best interest.

Given the prominence of “Frozen” in all little girls’ lives, the idea of your parents disappearing in a shipwreck seems to be the most likely cause of being orphaned and stranded. More often than not, when your parents are lost in a shipwreck, some sort of Tarzan scenario occurs in which you are then raised by animals. That’s just science. I’m currently getting about a hundred questions a day from Viva as to whether or not she needs to prepare herself to be raised by a jungle bear that talks like Jack Benny’s bandleader.

I’ve looked into accounts of children being raised by animals–from the 1920’s wolf children of India and the 1950’s Capuchin monkey girl of Columbia, to the more recent Chilean wild dog boy. The amount of reputable data available as to just how effective each of these species was at parenting is not robust, but I think I have enough Wikipedia information and I’ve watched enough movies to create a very trustworthy parenting blog post to help you decide what animals to be closest to when you inevitably die in a shipwreck.

Ghosts

Okay, technically ghosts aren’t animals, but they aren’t people, either, and they sometimes live in the woods. I recently saw the Spanish horror film “Mama,”* a movie which featured twins raised by a forest ghost, and the “Insidious” series, which also had a haunted nanny. The upshot is that your child will be able to move in fast motion, and in the busy information age, wouldn’t you like to get a little more done? The bad news is, ghost nannies are tough to fire, even in an At-will state, and will likely eventually try to take the child to the netherworld. So, you have to decide how you feel about the netherworld and a persistent smell of brimstone on your child’s romper.

Australians

Australians are also not technically animals, but I think Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson have taught us that they’re close.* Many, if not most, feral children are found in Australia, from the little boy in “Mad Max: The Road Warrior,” to all the kids in “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” All, right, mostly we’re talking about Mad Max movies. But there is also an alleged story of a boy being raised by KANGAROOS in New South Wales last year. Kangaroos are definitely animals. If you’re going to have a your child raised by strangers, isn’t it better that the strangers either wear hockey pads and have machine guns on their muscle cars or at least be giant marsupials with cozy pouches and the ability to box? If your child is raised by kangaroos, they will have excellent jumping skills, if they are raised by Australian people, they will have profound insight as to what is or is not a knife.

Wolves

The classic. Being raised by wolves never goes out of style.

Monkeys and Apes

Non-human primates will help your kid swing from vines to Phil Collins songs, yodel, look like an Olympic swimmer and scat like an Italian trumpeter in a Vegas lounge. These creatures are a lot like people, but are stronger, funnier and more willing to flip off Clint Eastwood.

Penguins

You’re probably saying, “The only person to be raised by penguins was Tim Burton’s Oswald Cobblepot from ‘Batman Returns.’” Okay, yes, but he became mayor of Gotham. Also, penguins can teach your child to tap dance. And not just dorky 42nd Street style tap dancing, but the cool Savion Glover/Gregory Hines/Sammy Davis, Jr. style of tap dancing, too. And they are always impeccably dressed.

I hope I’ve given you some quality information as to what creatures will act as surrogate parents when your child goes feral. (And, have you met your child? They’re already halfway there.)

Nota bene: While allowing some of these wild beasts raise your child might not be a total disaster, you’re probably better off just letting TV raise them like our parents did.

*Most Spanish horror films seem to be about children. Spain is the worst possible place to become an au pair, unless you want a charge who can climb up walls or talk to little boys with scarecrow heads.

**And let’s not forget the larrikinism of Flea, Iggy Azalea and that Jacko guy from the 1980’s Energizer commercials. All definitely more beast than man.

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