Pet peeves in life.
By Sue Langenberg

–One major rite of passage when raising children is going through various pet stages. It seems not enough to have regular humans making messes around the house without throwing in extra rodents, scaly fish or perhaps a tattletale bird.
–And there’s that inevitable, “Oh, mom, I promise I’ll take care of it!” Yeah, right. I’ve heard those myths about that, cleaning their bedrooms and faithfully doing homework.
–About dogs and cats, I was always most agreeable. I have fallen for those yearning brown eyes and purring hearts a time or two. I have also, in fact, done time as a canine midwife, though unintentionally. It seems that my neighbor and I took our trash out the same morning that their dog Grover flirted with my dog Lucy, who happened to be wearing mesh stockings, high heels and red lipstick at the time. She fluttered her eyelashes and swished her tail just right.
–My daughter at aged 12 already seemed to know about birds, bees and Lucy with her red lipstick and shouted from the window, “Mom, can we keep a puppy? I promise I’ll…”
–And so we did, after using the couch as a birthing center. When the cat wore lipstick, she chose my daughter’s laundry basket to give birth without any assistance. After that, I made sure that there were no such scandals around the house.
–But if constant cleaning, scrubbing and vacuuming are not enough, there are other critters in this world to behold.
–Don’t get me wrong; dogs and cats are family members I would not be without. They dwell as life mates and are unconditional friends. But fish just don’t curl up with you on the couch. That was my daughter’s next endeavor. “Oh, mom, I promise I’ll…”
–She named each of them and followed feeding instructions from the pet shop. Three days later, they were floating on the top. I felt her disappointment, but my knowledge was limited to leashes and dog bowls.
–The next request was about a hamster. I believe the question was something like, “Mom, may I have an order of hamster and eggs today?” Funny, but my humor left me at the thought of a pink rodent in my house. “Oh, mom, they never get out of their cage,” to which a like friend of mine raising her children said something stiff like “Male cow waste!” or some such expletive. She had already given rites for hamsters that had escaped and perished within the walls of the house.
–I relented, however, and noticed later that, indeed, the pink rodent had escaped into a nearby trash can. I heard a nervous, “mess around, mess around,” and cannot remember how I saved it without thick gloves. Never mind that, however, because it promptly died of Hostile House Syndrome, where the teenager involved was never there to say, “I promise I’ll…”
–We never got around to tattletale birds, though I imagine that it might have been an interesting experiment in just how much a bird can divulge about household information. But the real reason is that I feel it would have been an unfair conflict of interest with an enterprising cat around having licking chops and twitching tail. Another friend left a cat to its own devices with a handy fish tank nearby. When he came home, the cat was smiling and the tank was empty.
–I am now watching the next generation of critters in my daughter’s own household. There is already a fish tank, as she is perhaps a bit more informed about care this time. As the grandsons grow, there will probably be other critters to say, “mom, I promise…”