So, it’s finally happened: Your child has asked you for a pet. Isn’t that great? Let me go ahead and answer that question for you: No, it’s not. When your child asks for a pet, what they are really asking is if you would like to take care of an animal in your house, yet receive absolutely zero credit for caring for it. Little Hannah doesn’t have a pet hamster—you have a pet hamster. Oh, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to tell me that you sat your child down and had a serious discussion about responsibility. That your child will be doing all the work, and it’s actually going to be a great lesson in how to care for another living creature!
Feel free to Facebook message me while you’re cleaning out the hamster cage for moral support. I promise I’ll only respond with three laugh/crying stickers. Maybe four. Five, tops.
But take heart: Some pets are definitely worse than others. While some pets can be tolerated and even become enjoyable, there are some pets that you should definitely veto immediately. Here’s a brief list of pets and the reasons why they are turrrrrrrrible ideas:
Dog: Do you miss having a toddler around the house? You should definitely get a puppy. I guarantee you that constantly removing objects that aren’t edible from a slobbery mouth and getting up three times in the middle of the night to let the puppy outside—only to watch him happily pee on the rug right in front of you the second he comes back into the house—will help you to remember how incredibly not great those years were.
Cat: Have you always wanted to teach your children about rejection? What about how to handle a family member or “friend” who doesn’t like being around you, whom you can’t really cut out of your life, so you just have to try to learn to tolerate each other? Adopt a cat! Make sure you find one that will live to be about 20 years old. You’ll know if you got lucky and adopted one of those cats if it really hates you and pisses all over your house.
Hamster: Don’t be sucked in by the colorful tubes and that song that was on the Internet when you first learned that the Internet was a thing. (It’s in your head now, isn’t it? You’re welcome!) They are kind of cute, but don’t really do much. Hamsters literally sleep all day long. You know, daytime? That time of day that your child prefers to be awake and playing with their pets? Yeah, hamsters aren’t huge fans of that. They do like to wake up at, oh, I don’t know, what time do you put your kids to bed? That time. That’s the time when they like to wake up and gnaw endlessly on everything around them.
Fish: Boooooooooring. Fish are extremely exciting to pick out and transport home. Then the fun factor sharply declines about 15 minutes after you dump your fish into the tank. That’s about the time your kids realize that swimming is pretty much all these fish are going to do. They will remember that they can’t pet their fish or take them anywhere–except the toilet, when they unceremoniously kick the bucket for some stupid scientific reason like the pH balance or alkali or some such bullshit.
Rabbit: Here’s the thing: A rabbit doesn’t particularly want to be your pet. They want to eat, drink, sleep and be left alone. They are the Ke$ha of the pet world. Everything else about being a pet terrifies them. They may look like they are enjoying it when you pet them, but really they are frozen with fear. If you take a rabbit out of its cage, it’s not going to happily hop around your house; it’s going to bolt across your living room and find the closest corner to sit and stare at everything until this nightmare is over and you put it back into the cage.
Bird: Have you ever looked at a sparrow sitting in a tree in your backyard and thought, “I wonder what it would be like to have that creature wildly flying around my house, bumping into things and shitting everywhere?” Buy your child a bird and find out! Birds are big fans of making lots of noise as well. Not all of those noises are necessarily beautiful, or nice, or not-headache-inducing. They also have a wonderful habit of bonding deeply to one specific person and developing an all-consuming hatred toward the rest of humanity. Usually this person is the one who feeds and cares for it the most dependably. So, if you don’t feel like you’ve given your kids enough to talk about at therapy, get yourself a parrot and roll the dice!
On second thought, there really isn’t a good option at all when it comes to pets. It may be time for Plan B: Bribe the children with an over-the-top gift. Trust me, no matter what you spend, you’re still getting off easy.