Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What the Books Don't Say

        It was a brisk fall day when I came home to my excited then 9 year old and her new pet Anole.  The Anole was a gift from the 4th grade teacher.  Taya was “lucky” enough to win the lottery.  Our initial thought was it would teach her responsibility.  After all we managed diabetes, how much work could a tiny lizard be? 
          Our first job as Anole caretakers was to get the creature from its small carrying cage to our larger retired hamster cage.  So, we filled the aquarium with dirt, found some grass and sticks and then were stuck!  Dad, the man of the house, was gone so that left a bunch of girls who were scared of spiders to try and move the thing.  With my 6 year old offering lots of advice, lots of screaming from Tylie and Taya and maybe a few mumbled curse words from mom, we finally got the little bugger in the cage with no one actually having to touch it. 
          Okay, next step, off to the pet store.  Here we encountered a dilemma.  Do you know that an Anole costs a mere $7 to purchase but over $100 in supplies required to keep it living?  It is true. It needs two kinds of lights; one for warmth and another for basking. It eats only live things such as crickets and meal worms and it needs to be sprayed down daily to keep its reptile skin moist.  In addition, we have to change his bedding monthly.  At this point, we are reconsidering.  First of all, we are scared to touch the lizard itself, we are rarely home to make sure it gets 12 hours of light a day, and now we have to consider feeding it live crickets and worms!  Keep in mind, throughout this store expedition, we are also chasing a 2 year old and trying to keep his hands out of the turtle tanks.  So, after some deliberation, we decide we can not handle this responsibility and carefully return everything to its place and head home.
          Once home, we call the teacher and say we must return this lovely reptile to school so that she may give it to a family that can truly appreciate it.  After a few words meant to change our minds, we remained firm and turned to try and get the monster back into its carrying case.  This proved to be somewhat easier as it seems they prefer to climb up, rather than down.  After a few minutes of poking, cringing, and yes, more screaming, we got him safely back in his original container.
          Meanwhile, my then eleven year old is trying to wiggle her way out of a family event for the weekend by asking if she can stay with a friend.  Being a rookie at this adolescent mood changing thing, I am confused by her tears before she has even asked me the question.  This is followed by her instant defensiveness when I ask her to check her blood sugar. I always like to know if these crazy moods are related to highs or lows or just you average hormonal overflow.  Anyway,  my stress level is high due this conversation, the lizard, packing for the trip, and trying to determine what to fix for supper.  So, when I look into the lizard cage and find it missing, let’s just say I may have overreacted. 
          I assign one kid to look through the newspaper pile on the counter, another to crawl along the floor and the 3rd to climb on the counter and check above the cabinets.  The 2 year old thinks this is all hilarious. I call my husband, who also thinks this is hilarious and is of no help at all.   After 10 minutes we turn up nothing except some inappropriate words from my vocabulary, said in my head of course.  I asked Taya to look in the cage again.  She takes a stick and starts to poke around.  She gives a squeak and I turn to see the little lizard emerge from the dirt.  It seems they like to hide and he had burrowed in and turned brown.  Lovely! He was probably hiding from the chaos around him like I wished I could.   I really just wanted to bring it back to school!
          Somehow, we made it through the evening.  The lizard lived to see its new home, my eleven year old got over having to deal with family obligations and Taya and I learned that you research, A LOT, before agreeing to be the foster parent to the class pet!  Just one of those little episodes they don't prepare you for in the parenting books!

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