(First published in Le News 19 June 2014)
So we’re talking a lot about pets again, in our household. It seems the children are not content with four fat goldfish, three layabout Guinea Pigs, a geriatric cat and a Furby that will not shut up (I’d take the batteries out but what if it goes all Chucky on me and keeps talking?)
No. None of these are thrilling enough. What they really want – what their little hearts are aching for – is, of course, a puppy.
‘Not going to happen,’ I tell them over and over. No fence, rental property, itinerant status, B Permit, already bankrupted by the cat, blah blah blah.
But they live in hope. And, in the meantime, they’re exploring every other option because, as I heard them whispering the other day, ‘You just never know what she’ll say yes to.’
So hardly a week goes by without some pet-related request from the bigger child, escalating in weirdness.
A while ago it was, ‘I must have a pony or I will die.’ Well, she didn’t get the pony and I’m pleased to report that she has not succumbed to lethal Pony-Craving. Although it was touch-and-go for a while.
A few weeks later, ‘There’s a stray cat at the school. It’s got one eye, no ears and it might have rabies. Can we bring it home?’
And then yesterday, ‘I know where I can buy a toilet-trained monkey. Let’s go there right now.’
Their longing has become so acute that they spent much of last Sunday debating which pets they’d be prepared to swap their father for. After much discussion, the verdict was: a frog, no; a cat, maybe; a puppy, most definitely, yes. I didn’t join in because a) I’ve already explained why we can’t have a dog and b) I didn’t think it was an appropriate discussion to have on Father’s Day.
Anyway, the thing they don’t know is that I totally understand. I remember so clearly the anticipation of getting a new pet, and the delight of finally meeting it. I remember all the lovely, tumbly puppies; the mist-grey kitten with the green eyes; I particularly remember a white mouse that gave an enormous squeak and deposited ten tiny pink babies in her nest, one right after the other. I was thrilled. I thought I’d scored the deal of the century: my parents had agreed to one white mouse and I’d landed up with eleven! Actually I landed up with none because my mother marched the whole lot right back to the pet shop and demanded a refund. So I also understand the agony of having a grown-up stomp all over your fluffy pet-dreams with their big, sensible feet and their limited thinking.
Quite honestly, I’m appalled that I’ve become that grown-up. Which is why I’ve finally agreed that, at some point in the future, when we have a house with a fence and a bigger garden … we might consider getting another Furby.