The Loud One takes her birthday very seriously. She was born on August 22nd and she’s usually working on the plans for next year’s celebration by the 28th. Of that same month. August.
She’s starts by thinking about the party’s theme. For her 4th birthday, she considered an Animal Party, a “Backyardigans” Party, a Hide & Seek Party and eventually, she decided on a Pirate Party. It was totally manageable… except for the Epic Cake Fail.
For her 5th birthday, she pretty much had decided on a Puppy Party from the very beginning. Easy! A couple of cardboard doghouses and we called it a day. And I rocked that cake. (And by “rocked,” I mean, “made something that I tried to copy off the Internet and it vaguely resembled a puppy.”)
Well, this year, she turns six and over the past eight-ish months, I’ve heard all of the following ideas:
- “Maybe we can do another Puppy Party with real puppies this time… and everyone can bring one home!” (Oh sure! The other parents will LOVE that! SO much better than the bubbles and pencils and candy and stickers!)
- “I really want a Dinosaur Hunting Party! We can hide dinosaurs all over the backyard!”
- “I’m going to have a Husky Party for my birthday. And my present will be a Husky.”
The latest conversation went like this:
LO: I really want to have a Dragon Party. With a real fire-breathing dragon statue. I can be Toothless and everyone else can try to capture me and try to train me. (For those of you uninformed, Toothless is the dragon from the movie, “How to Train Your Dragon”)
Me: Hmmm. I’m not sure that would be very fun for your friends.
LO: YES IT WILL! They can wear dragon costumes, too if they want.
Me: <pause> Have you considered an off-site party… like say, at Pump It Up?
LO: Can we bring animals there?
LO: Than how will I have a Dragon Party?
Over the course of the year, she also works on her present wish list. (These lists often mysteriously disappear during the time between September and June, but she remains undeterred and just begins a new one.)
Her current list includes six things from the American Girl catalog that are all animal related (she tells me, “Did you know that the American Girls all have puppies? They’re so lucky.” And I’m all, “Are you kidding? Addy’s a SLAVE and Molly’s living through World War II! The only lucky one is Julie, because she’s growing up in the 70s and gets to wear funky clothes!”); a new basket for her bike; stuffed animals; and a pet hamster.
Now you should know, as she’s made these lists for the past year, the American Girl stuff comes and goes and she often forgets about the bike basket. But EVERY SINGLE BIRTHDAY LIST ever has included some sort of living creature. A hamster. A turtle. A guinea pig. It doesn’t really matter… her desperate desire for an animal companion has remained steadfast.
Wait, if it’s not already clear, her absolute FIRST choice would be a puppy. But she knows that’s not happening because of, um, you know, Daddy’s allergies.
Side note: I told her that having two little brothers is just like having a dog… they’re both constantly getting into her stuff, they poop where they shouldn’t, they like to go for walks and we’re constantly yelling at them, “STOP! Drop it! Sit! Don’t eat that!”
She didn’t buy it.
Here’s the thing… KJ and I aren’t really dog people. You know how dog-lovers say that they’re suspicious of people who don’t love dogs? Yeah, well, that’s us. We’re those shady characters that don’t daydream about adding a four-legged child to our family.
In fact, I’m suspicious of THOSE people who say they’re suspicious of people who don’t love dogs. Just because I don’t want my house to be covered in hair and my yard to be covered in poop doesn’t make me a serial killer. I mean, I’m not making plans to drop kick a small cock-a-poodle or anything; I’ve just never wanted one in my own house.
For those of you asking, “Didn’t you have pets growing up?” the answer is this: my family had a dog (Brady) and a cat (Twinkie) before I was born. Weeks after my birth, the dog died and the cat ran away. They clearly feared my domination.
When I was about seven, I got a parakeet and named it Pretzel. For weeks I tried to teach that bird to say “hello” by recording myself saying “hello hello hello” over and over again on my cassette player and then rewinding and playing. Rewinding and playing. Rewinding and playing. That stupid bird never said one damn word. And then it died. (This just occurred to me… is it possible I bored it to death? Well, whatever.)
DESPITE our sketchy animal history, I think it’s time we give in to our first-born. The Loud One’s passion cannot be denied any longer. (Not that it could ever be denied, given its volume…)
But we need help. We need some advice on the best starter pet for a six-year-old.
I have a few requirements:
- It can’t require living things as food. I’m not storing mice in my freezer or accidentally dropping a bag of live crickets on her bedroom floor.
- It can’t constantly smell. I understand that poor pet/cage hygiene may result in an undesirable odor, but it would be great if the animal didn’t naturally smell like poop or feet.
- It can’t be too noisy.
- But it can’t be too boring. (She would like to be able to hold it, so yeah, fish are out. Plus, we’ve already had fish. They were boring. And then they died. Are you sensing a theme here?)
- She should be able to handle the basic maintenance (i.e. feeding it) herself.
- It preferably bathes itself (and cleans its own cage/tank/home if we’re really being honest).
- And it would be great if we could just leave it alone for a week at a time when we travel. I’d hate to bother any of you about pet-sitting. (Am I shooting to high here? FINE.)
So, I will await your suggestions. Comment here. Email me. Whatever. Just don’t mention this to her should you cross paths. And DO NOT buy us a puppy.
OH, and while you’re helping me out, if anyone knows how to build a real fire-breathing dragon statue, consider yourself hired.