Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Of Pets and Politics
Of Pets and Politics
One Bunny Shy of an Answered Prayer
by Sherry Antonetti in Family
APR. 20, 2010 (www.faithandfamilylive.com) - Every day at some point, I summon my father’s technique of keeping the car relatively fight free by making us engage in a decade of the Rosary. Each child gets to give a petition before each prayer. No editorials are allowed, but you do get requests that sound largely like hints to the driver.
“That Mom might take us to the park … buy milk shakes … not yell if I tell her I got a homework slip …”
Graciously, I have not outlawed these, but I do point out that sometimes the answer to these petitions is yes and sometimes it’s cert denied.
They’ve figured out what that means from context.
Driving home from school, my four-year-old son raised his hand first, “I have one.”
Pleased to see him join in the fray, as he usually would hold back and then repeat one that someone else said, or say something silly, I signaled to everyone else, Johnny-boo is going first.
“I’m praying to God for bunnies. I’d like one as a pet. They’re so soft and cuddly. I would pet it and love it and it would make me very happy.”
His eager eyes and wide warm smile flashed in my rear view mirror.
The great silence that followed was broken by the oldest leading everyone in the first “Hail Mary.” I said it, but sat there at the red light scrolling through the many rationales a parent might give a child for denying him a fluffy pet.
Now I had many plausible, rational, intelligent reasons for refusing.
There was however, the personal factor. I had been in my son’s shoes. I had prayed for a bunny. I had even co-opted my carpool to school into praying for me to get a rabbit when I was in second grade. My mother found herself reluctantly hoping for a floppy eared rodent to grace our lives.
My opportunity came just before Thanksgiving. I was in YMCA Indian Princesses, and every year they held a turkey scramble. For those uninitiated in this yearly festivity, it was a game where all the girls were divided into groups by age, lined up in a baseball field.
Scattered about the yard like Easter eggs, were chickens, turkeys, guinea pigs and rabbits. When emcee blew his whistle, the girls would run at the critters. If you caught it, it was yours. If you caught a turkey, you got a frozen one for your family.
Naturally that year, I caught the smallest, most ill tempered fluffy bunny ever to escape Watership Down. Upon our first magical meeting, she gave me a three inch gash in my wrist with her paws, earning the name, “Scratchy.”
She lived in a hutch built by our saintly next door neighbors, who also saw to it she wanted for nothing, including extra carrots and attention when the wandering mind of an especially dreamy young girl forgot about her perpetually irritated pet. Scratchy lived through my ninth grade year; her temper never improved.
Flashing forward into the car as the light turned green, Johnny’s sister took the lead and prayed that her brother’s prayer would be answered “yes.”
Every parent worthy of the name has needed to summon the steel to deny their beloved offspring a vocalized clear heart’s desire. In some instances, this is startlingly easy.
“Can we get a pool?”
“Can I have (insert electronic device of your choice from any and every age asked every hour on the eights for weeks at a time)?”
“Nyet. Nein. Nada. Not happening.”
“That I get a bunny.”
Despite the fact that she was 2,174 miles away in Texas, I mentally heard my mother busting a gut laughing, “It’s your turn! It’s your turn!”
I also knew getting a rabbit would be completely absurd and opted for the cowardly tactic of waiting this request out.
“We’ll see.” I said, then I privately planned to ignore it entirely.
However, bunnies kept hopping into my path. One ran through our backyard that evening. We saw one at the park the next day. When it was raining, the kids put on a DVD. It was Bugs Bunny.
After a week of feeling positively showered with rabbits in the form of pictures, pretend games, goodnight stories and movie choices, I let it slip that we shall have nothing requiring house breaking until the kids stop breaking the house.
That next day, my four-year-old took his sister by the hand and led her to the potty.
“If you learn, maybe we can get a pet bunny.” He explained. She sat. I stewed. Now they’re fighting dirty.
While I’m still holding out for childhood amnesia, I’m also hoping to get a kid potty trained as part of the deal if I have to give in on this one. Ultimately, I still plan to wait this request out with silence. But part of me trembles as I remember:
Knock, and it shall be opened. Ask, and you shall receive. I do believe, but when it comes to the bunnies, I am just hoping ... not yet.
— Sherry Antonetti is a fortunate spouse, freelance writer and a full time mother to nine sources of inspiration, laughs, and a lot of laundry.