My kids are desperate for a pet. Specifically, they want a dog called Snuffles. Me, I can’t factor in managing another little animal. I have my hands full with my current menagerie of three kids under nine. Plus, every time we encounter the animal kingdom it seems to be quite dramatic and stressful.
Yesterday, I was just hanging out with three-year-old Pudding when a little bird flew in the house and cornered itself in the kitchen. My heart sank. This happens often, and I am always reminded of that Modern Family scene when Mitchell, terrified of birds, smashes up his entire lounge room trying to encourage a pigeon to fly out.
Birds, so non-scary in their natural habitat, somehow utterly freak me out at close quarters, and make me come up against my worst, most hysterical self. Here we were, faced with a tiny blue tit frantically trying to fly out through the kitchen window, and instead conking itself over and over on the glass.
Eventually I realised that I was going to have to capture the bird in a tea towel and carry it outside. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I closed my hand gently around the madly fluttering, warm little body. ”It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” I muttered, derangedly, as I carried the poor bird past little Pudding.
Suddenly it squirmed out, dropped onto Pudding’s foot and then rolled, motionless onto the floor. Pudding screamed, a terrible sustained banshee wail, and then I screamed too, before picking the bird up again and running outside (IT’S OKAY, IT’S OKAY, IT’S OKAY, IT’S OKAY) to place it on the step. ”They do that!” I told Pudding, my heart hammering. ”Birds do that! It’s not dead! It’s just stunned!”
Eventually the little bird came to and flew away, and I discovered that as it buzzed past my laptop on its little scenic tour of the house, it had shat on my keyboard. So I guess nature had the last laugh after all.
THE EYES HAVE IT
My son recently had some animal-related hysterics, too. It was a Saturday night, right on bedtime. My husband, Keith, was away and I was trying to keep the vibe calm so I could cajole all three kids into bed when six-year-old T-Bone suddenly ran inside with a frog in his hand. ”A frog!” he yelled. ”I’ve got a frog and he’s my new pet!”
The girls shot off the couch, casting Eloise In Paris aside in the process and threw themselves into the spirit of the thing. ”Little fwoggie,” moaned Pudding, poking at the poor amphibian with her dirty little paws. ”Let's call him Trevor,” said eight-year-old Peanut. ”Where did you find him?” I asked T-Bone. ”In my slime bucket,” he answered. I enquired no further.
Before I could regain control, Trevor had jumped out of T-Bone’s hands and hopped off behind the fridge. I was in it now. ”No!” I cried. ”It’s too hot back there! He’ll cook!” So, I found a torch, shone it into the dust and picked out poor Trevor, just out of reach. I managed to scoop him out with a long spoon and ordered T-Bone to take him out of the house. But before they could make it, poor little befuddled Trevor took a flying leap right onto T-Bone’s face.
”MY EYE!” shrieked T-Bone, running in circles. He ran around so wildly that it took me a while to grab him and pluck Trevor off. ”My eye!” he screamed the whole time. ”My eye! My eye!” Poor Trevor finally got back to his slime bucket, and I eventually did get the children to bed, but the whole crazy drama of it all was another nail in the coffin of the dog-dream. Snuffles, I’m sorry but you’ll have to stay an imaginary dog. It’s a zoo around here already.