If you’re going to get your child a pet, you should ensure that they’re ready. You also have to be ready; between the two of you, you should be able to feed, care for and not accidentally kill any of them, unlike me.
When I was pregnant I managed to kill no less than three ferns, one betta fish and a cactus plant, all incredibly bad omens considering that I got each of them as a sort of test; if I could keep the lowliest, maintenance-free things alive, surely I could raise a child to adulthood, right?
So when my daughter asked me for a pet, my blood ran ice cold, because I was certain I would somehow manage to kill it. I was right.
1. R.I.P. Mr. and Mrs. Anole Lizard
We live in Texas, where all of the wildlife can kill you. Except anoles. They’re legit. We caught one, and it promptly died, so I did what any loving mother would do; catch another, let my kid name it and get attached and then lie and say it escaped when I came home to a little lizard cadaver one day after running errands.
2. Sleep, sweet frog prince
At this point we figured that we’d stop capturing wild animals and get something from a pet store. We decided on a frog for its affordability. After defeating the purpose by dropping over $200 on a habitat ( I was not gonna kill this thing, dammit), the power went out one night, shorting the heating unit in the habitat. It took me two days to realize we had a frogsicle on our hands, and yes, I grappled with the idea of taxidermizing the frog and maintaining the charade.
3. Let slip the veil, butterflies
We downgraded to insects, which we assumed would have the basic courtesy to die after they were out of our care. We were wrong. My daughter successfully raised five caterpillars to adulthood, and then, just as they were stretching their new wings, one was beset upon by a grackle and my dog snatched two more out of the sky and rolled on their little corpses. The other two may have made it but we were a little distracted by the carnage to find out.
4. Sayonara, Tamagotchi
At this point I stopped buying living things and gave in to my daughter’s request for a Tamagotchi, which they do in fact still make. This time I vowed to not let even this virtual pet perish in a pile of its own chocolate chip-shaped poos. I should have just left it alone. I went on a run with the tamagotchi nestled into my sports bra so I could keep an eye on him, and by the time I got back home the thing wouldn’t even power up. There aren’t enough rice baths in the world to dry out a mini-computer drenched in boob sweat.
5. Ashes to ashes, guinea pigs to dumpster
After everything we’d been through, was I an idiot for allowing two guinea pigs in my home? Yes. Yes I was. What began as one guinea pig, Om Nom, quickly became two when we learned that they are social creatures. Om Nom and Doom Piggy humped like furry gladiators for dominance, smelled like buttstuff, and never slept. Still, we kept them alive and well-loved for years before we moved across the state. My husband ferried them in his car after some careful Googling, making sure to stop and check them often. As he got off the final exit, he hit a gnarly pothole and their little hearts gave out. I will never get something as fluffy and adorable again because breaking the news was heart-wrenching.