Against my will, my family is turning our homestead into a mini menagerie with an increasing number of pets. It’s not that I don’t like animals, I just don’t like taking care of animals. As an independent person by nature who has to work earnestly at being nurturing to humans, I hardly need a bunch of critters yelping for my attention.
Sure, my children make big promises about pets, “You won’t have to do anything, Mom!” Yeah, yeah. I earned my first sucker badge when I believed that about the gerbils they begged for years ago. I ended up taking care of those smelly varmints way beyond normal species life expectancy.
Our latest animal acquisition is a 45-gallon fish tank. Though my daughter already has a 20-gallon tank, a goldfish globe and a beta bowl, apparently she’s still aquatically unfulfilled. Anytime I try to limit pet collection, Daddy Doter says, “Let them have their childhood fun. They’ll be grown up and gone before we know it.”
Yeah, like the bionic gerbils.
Though I may not be naturally nurturing, I’m not completely heartless so I cave. Then I end up spending months helping my daughter create a nautical luxury condo for marine life. We’ve already had to work through a pH balance issue, a fungus infestation, an algae episode, a plant incompatibility and, most recently, a harassment situation.
One night I was monitoring our oceanic microcosm when I noticed a fish was missing. I mentioned it to my daughter who explained that he’d recently taken to hiding inside the plastic log because a tankmate bullies him. My blood boiled as I was reminded of my oldest daughter’s first year of junior high.
She hadn’t transitioned well, but her grades and friends were good so I wasn’t panicked. Still, she constantly ranted about hating school. Eventually she admitted that she endured daily mocking in the halls by a cruel kid and his crew. I asked who he was and she didn’t know his name, but referred to him as “Weaselface” in defense to his bullying and an eerie rodent resemblance. Though I’m no helicopter parent, the vulgarity this kid spouted repeatedly at my daughter was vile and necessitated intervention. I did need a name to rat out Weaselface, so I utilized a PTA “Muffins with Mom” event to run an undercover op.
My daughter and I munched muffins and waited for Weaselface to take the free breakfast bait. He did, my daughter tagged him, and I “accidentally” bumped into him, “Oh, sorry there, uh…what’s your full name?” He told me and I walked right over to the vice principal and told him the situation. Within an hour, that kid and his parents were in the office with a probation and warning that further bully reports would result in expulsion. The halls of junior high were brighter after that.
I knew I had to intervene in behalf of that poor exiled fish too. My daughter pointed out Weaselfish and we yanked him from his posh habitat. Now he lives alone in a lemonade pitcher.
Though I may not be a natural nurturer, I have zero tolerance for bullies.
And we will never, ever own a pet weasel.