An Ideal House Pet

Are you one of the 10% of people who actually achieved his or her childhood dream job as an adult? I am! After briefly teaching high school English and Spanish, I became what I always wanted to be -- a zookeeper.


Zookeeper may not be the most politically correct title for a stay-at-home-mom, but you can't tell me it's not accurate. My schedule revolves around feeding times, tidying up our habitat, breaking up fights, observing animal behavior, hosing down marked territory, and bathing the creatures that don't lick themselves clean.

I wanted to be a zookeeper as a kid not because I loved button up khaki shirts, who doesn't, but because I loved animals. As icky as it seems to me now, my brother and I used to spend hours in our neighborhood ditch trying to catch garter snakes. We'd pour water down snake holes in hopes that we could step on their tails and pick them up as they slithered out. Surely, they felt the love.


I used to think my mom was an animal lover, too, because she allowed us pet after pet. As an adult, I see she actually just loved us. Like, a lot. No, really. I'm talking pet lizard level love.


Of all the animals we owned, I loved our rabbits the most. There's just something about rabbits. I don't know if it's the thrill of endlessly chasing them when they inevitably scratch up your arms with a panicked, squirmy leap to avoid being loved by you or what, but I think they're just the best.

I'd even go as far as to designate rabbits as my "spirit animal". They happily hop around minding their own business and then flee in a panic at the threat of human interaction. It's okay, rabbit! My social expectations of you are extremely low. You cannot possibly say the wrong thing or make a fool of yourself. Just take a breath, be yourself, and let me pat your head.


For whatever reason, I decided to test my marriage some years ago by breeding Holland Lop rabbits. I brought home four and just multiplied them continually. Did you know a rabbit's gestation period is only 28 days and they can get pregnant with two litters at one time and can start having babies at just 5 months old? Crazy what you learn when your house starts teeming with rabbits. My husband didn't even flinch; he supported me 100%. I call that true love. Psychologists call it, "enabling," but I'm not a psychologist.



In my irrational, go big or go home mind, rabbit breeding was the first step in realizing my end goal of starting a miniature animal farm. Picture this: a farm full of miniature horses, goats, cows, pigs, sheep, dogs, etc. Then, Flemish Giant rabbits. The giant rabbits would make the miniatures look even smaller! Bonus -- you could fit them all in the back of a truck or your jacket pocket and take them to kids' birthday parties. Brilliant, right? Not to mention, you'd only have to clean up miniature-sized waste.


Go ahead and steal my business model if you want. I won't be able to use it. This year, I found out my wheezing and sneezing was from allergies to everything the Good Lord placed on the earth days 3-5. That includes Goliath-sized rabbits and David-sized horses.


Honestly, allergies have made me completely doubt the leadership and decision-making skills of my physiology. I pick a dandelion and my immune system just loses it. It's like, "a foreign substance seems to have entered our system. It may be from a harmless blade of grass or the hair of a kitten, but, just to be safe, let's initiate lung shutdown. Better to be dead than sorry."


I get it, though. It's kind of how my brain functions, too. I'm like, "Hmm...people want me to do some urgently important things that I have no interest in whatsoever. Better just grab some M&Ms and sleep this whole 'doing things' thing off."


It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I'm never not tired. Any parent of young kids knows what I'm talking about. It feels as exhausting as Rocky's training montage looks in Rocky II. You know, he's jogging through the city, smiling and waving at everyone and then a group of kids joins him so he sprints to lose them (they will find you, Rocky!) and then he bolts full speed up that mountain of steps just like in the first movie and cheers victoriously only to be swarmed by kids again. That's what parenting young kids feels like daily, but with less productive cardio and more snacks you can eat with one hand.


Would you believe I never swore before I had kids? It's true. My language has since deteriorated with each of their births, but I attribute it partly to no longer being able to think of actual, intelligent words. It's like my brain spent nine months marinating in Gatorade and Nutella so out pops, "Beep beep!" Instead of, "Alas, I have failed to examine the pockets of my offspring's corduroy pullover and now must spend the remainder of my afternoon removing melted crayon from the dryer drum." I used to be so quick-witted and graceful and now I'm like, "You know that one song by that one girl? Uhhh... starts with an "F," I think. Come on, you know. That one song that's like doo-doo-da-doo?" And my husband's like, "Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani?" and then I'm like, "Damn! You got it!"


Another reason I swear is because my kids never shut the front door. I am using "shut the front door" literally here, not as a clever Utah swear. It could be the dead of winter and they'd leave it open just in case they need to reenter the house in 7 hours when school's over. Wouldn't want to have to open it a second time. The one time my daughter remembered to close the door behind herself, my three-year-old son galloped over to me beaming and said, "Portia closed the freaking door!" I took pictures for her scrapbook, called my mom, and cooked up some prime rib to celebrate.


I'm clearly already going to the "H" word for swearing. I don't need to go there for yelling at a puppy or releasing a pet snake into the wilderness far, far away from me, where it ought to be too. So, now that my kids have started begging for pets, I don't think I'll ever move out of our "no pets allowed" rented duplex. Honestly, I loved animals a lot more when I could leave their care to my parents. But now, I'm the parent!


I know it sounds like I keep getting sidetracked (Hey! That's the name of the thing!), but this all has a point. The point is, my kids want a flapjack-flipping pet. I am not using flapjack-flipping here literally, but as a clever Utah swear. I want my kids to be happy, but I'm allergic to any pet that would be remotely cute or satisfying to care for, which leaves fish, reptiles, and amphibians. So, no.



My kids can't even close the ever-loving front door, so I'm not real keen on entrusting an animal to their care. Because they never shut the front door, we constantly have parsnip-peeling flies buzzing around our living room. Again, not literal parsnip-peeling flies, I'd keep those helpful food preppers around, but annoying, disgusting house flies.


Not seeing the point yet? I'm getting there. You're going to lose your mind with how brilliant this is.


So, what do you do when you're a poor asthmatic mother like me who only wants to make her kids happy, possibly in an attempt to compensate for all the swearing? Well, I'll tell you what you do. You buy a parsnip-peeling, flapjack-flipping, housefly-eating Venus Fly Trap on Amazon that's what you do. It's like a freak, table-top, leaf dinosaur you don't even have to clean up after.


I can't wait!


If you order one, too, or already have one, let me know in the comments so we can go to the Venus Fly Trap park together!



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