September 11, 2013

A cautionary tale

I made a serious parenting blunder this week. A real face palm kind of moment. I'm going to share it with you so you can learn from my mistake.

Parents, do your research before offering your child a pet.

You probably don't need me to tell you that. You're a bright, educated individual. I'm the idiot. But just in case, please read on so you can avoid putting yourself in my position!

First, a little background. For the second summer in a row, we got some tadpoles from our neighbor's backyard pond and watched them morph into frogs. This year, instead of releasing all of them all as soon as they became frogs, we kept one for a little bit.

We enjoyed feeding it and watching it grow. It was cute. But I explained to SB it was NOT a pet. The frog belonged in the wild where it came from, and we would be letting it go. Then she went and named it, "Little Hopper." Oh s--t!

Every time I would press for a release, she resisted. Then one day when I dropped our dog off at Petsmart for grooming, I saw a baby Pacman frog for sale. It was cute. I did a cursory search and learned it is easy to care for. It's considered good for "beginners."

So I hatched a plan. Get SB to agree to let Little Hopper go in exchange for getting the new frog.

The next thing I knew, SB and I were watching videos on YouTube of HUGE adult Pacman frogs eating mice. Yes, mice. And the baby ones eat "pinkies," aka baby mice that don't have fur yet. Also? Pacman frogs have teeth. And can live for up to 15 years in captivity.

SB thought a Pacman frog would be the coolest pet ever. She couldn't get enough of the videos, which I found a bit disturbing. I know my kid loves nature, understands some animals are carnivores and has had an unconventional pet before, but really?! And as I tried desperately to back peddle, she began to put on the pressure.

She begged hubby and me over and over to let her get a Pacman frog. In my head, I was saying, "Oh hell to the no!" To her, I gently suggested it was not the best pet for our family, and apologized for my error in suggesting it. Hubby was more direct, declaring there would be no Pacman frog in the Ross household.

One night after she went to bed, I did some more thorough research and discovered what I felt would make a great pet for her - an Oriental fire-bellied toad. They are small, super easy to care for, eat insects like normal frogs (the name is a misnomer), and have no teeth.

I introduced my new plan and she was game. So off to the pet store we went. We already had everything we needed to care for the frog. And for just $6.99, the little creature could be ours. She picked out the one she wanted and proudly carried the box home.

She has named her new pet "Fire Climber" and she is in love:

Fire Climber is actually a pretty entertaining little pet. Far more active than a Pacman would have been and diurnal, thank goodness! And Little Hopper is back in the pond where it came from.

So, all's well that ends well. I managed to climb out of the hole I had dug for myself. But let this be a cautionary tale for you. Before you offer to get your child a pet, think long and hard and do your research! And whatever you do, do NOT do a search on YouTube for Pacman frogs. Trust me.

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