It’s been over a year since I shared that we weren’t ready for the commitment that having a pet required from both the children and the adults in the family. So, in turn, it’s been over a year since some grumpy commenter accused me of cheating my children out of a real childhood and irreparably damaging them because they didn’t have a dog.
Did you know that children who don’t have a pet have no other ways of learning responsibility or feeling love? It’s true. Angry Internet Commenter said so. My children have been deprived for six and four years. The horror. I’m surprised these poor, neglected, un-loved, responsibility-free children have survived this long. Or, until last week.
FireDad and I spent quite a bit of time discussing and researching pets once we moved into the new house. We have the space, inside and out, for the pet(s) of our liking. But the question remained: What kind of pet did we want to start with? It remains a big commitment, no matter the kind of animal you bring into your home. What was the right fit at this time? For our kids, for their personalities, for our home as a whole?
I grew up with parakeets. Or, singular-parakeets-at-a-time, which is apparently “doing it wrong” in the world of parakeets. My first pet, Alice in Wonderland, was a green parakeet. She didn’t last long. I still have a vivid memory of my dad lifting me up to Alice in Wonderland’s cage in my Sunday dress and promptly setting me down. My next parakeet, Pretty Patty, lived for eons. After she turned one, her beak-gender-determiner showed that she was a he, and he became Pretty Patrick. Funny times.
FireDad got way into the research process. He read and read at night after the kids were in bed and quickly surpassed my knowledge about parakeets even though I grew up with them — which is why we ended up with two. Parakeets do better in pairs (or more!) as they are social animals. If you’re going to stick it out with only one, you’re supposed to have them out of their cage lots and lots because your family needs to become their flock. Plus, there was no way we were leaving the store with only one as separate family members fell in love with different birds.
Mario is a turquoise blue and loves me. Luigi is a typical greenish-yellow with an a-typical, gorgeous tail of deep teal, blue and bright yellow. He hates me. He loves everyone else. He’ll sit on LittleBrother’s shoulder. He’ll sit on FireDad’s knee for a half-an-hour. Me? He takes the skin next to my fingernail in his beak and twists. Hopefully he outgrows it as they continue to get used to our family. And hopefully he doesn’t teach Mario this trick. Mario will sit with me, on me or next to me for long lengths of time.
We’re getting used to our pets. The boys are, understandably, ecstatic. They want to help with everything: changing the water, cleaning the cage, feeding the birds, giving them some millet, picking out their new toys and helping get them out of the cage. Or reading to them.
Watching them with the birds has been something special. They’re just so happy, every time they get to hold the birds. Even when they don’t get to handle them, when the birds are just hanging out in their cage, the boys are happy to talk to them, to stand near them, to have a pet.
I feel like we made the right decision waiting until now and choosing these birds as our first pets. It was a hard decision — the waiting and the jumping in and everything in between. But I’m glad we’re here, now, doing this. Here’s hoping we all learn something from this process and have some fun while doing it!