According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the year of the dragon. I know this to be true not only because I googled the bejesus out of it, but because my brood became riddled with delirium upon learning they had received a baby bearded dragon for Christmas. Make that TWO baby bearded dragons, coupled with a profusion of lizard-friendly paraphernalia said beings apparently require to survive. Heaven forbid the celebrated pet in question spend the rest of his days socially isolated, unable to collectively revel in the knowledge that the year ahead promises good things to those who are symbolic of reptilians.
Or something like that.
At any rate, we now own two disturbingly Godzilla-inspired organisms and, as a result, my children are entirely convinced that 2012 will be filled with good fortune—especially as it relates to the aforementioned scaly creatures. Translation: “We hope they have babies, Mom! Lots of them!” I’m not sure I could handle that much good fortune, particularly given the prolific nature of their poo and the nauseating reality of stockpiling live mealworms in my refrigerator and seasoned (read: calcium-dusted) crickets in the den. Gah! This is SO not in the parenting handbook. But I digress.
Against all logic and understanding, the tiny beasts have become a never-ending source of fascination for me. The way they ogle me with their freakishly bulbous eyes, twist their wee necks to an impossible degree and seize their prey in the true spirit of savagery intrigues me no end. Even the way they chew their vegetables is mildly entertaining. That said, I find myself drawn to their fetid tank, patently engrossed as they bask beneath the torrid rays of a pseudo sun—silent and still, much like the rocks and canopy of branches to which they cling almost invisibly; or when they devour legions of hapless victims in a manner that makes me cringe in horror, yet renders me wholly incapable of turning away. Never mind the dreadful sound of their jaws as they crush, chew and swallow without a morsel of mercy or an ounce of regret. Shame on me for being perfectly enthralled by something so inherently gruesome.
At least I’m not alone. Our entire household gathers en masse at the tank in a twisted display of fanaticism—noses to the glass in palpable anticipation, each of us about to be categorically mesmerized by what can only be described as a feeding frenzy. Furthermore, we’re fairly entranced by the hunt itself, duly impressed as our dear lizards scuttle about like spiders, hugging uncertain terrain and cleverly cornering a handful of crickets that, unsurprisingly, max out on the Stupidity Scale. Every. Single. Time. It’s entirely possible we need to develop more empathy for the ill-fated vermin. Then again, maybe the point is moot. (i.e. “It’s sad that the crickets have to die such a horrible, violent death, Mom. But it’s sort of entertaining to watch. Especially when their legs fall off and stuff.”)
Just when I think my husband and I are doing something right with respect to raising compassionate kids, they drop a disturbing little nugget like that on us. Oy.
At any rate, we’re having far more fun with our newish pets than I ever imagined possible. They’ve cheered homework completion on numerous occasions, been privy to godknowshowmany deep, dark secrets and journeyed far and wide to learn about their surroundings (i.e. “This is the television, which you probably won’t care much about…and this is the dog, which you should be profoundly terrified of…”).
Furthermore, they’ve balanced on heads with remarkable aplomb, starred in a multitude of ridiculous Photo Booth dramas (don’t ask) and, of course, perched atop a certain Justin Bieber doll to the delight of many. Looking back, I don’t know how I functioned without having such unadulterated hilarity in my life.
Indeed, 2012 promises good things—amusement involving a special pair of lizards, chief among them.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (when I’m not at Animal Specialties stocking up on crickets and counsel). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.
Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel