Drown­ing, not just wa­ver­ing

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian

I’VE heard it said that the proper way to pre­pare one­self for the great re­spon­si­bil­ity of hav­ing kids is to do it in stages: Plant, An­i­mal, Child.

In the­ory, you get your­self a house­plant (prefer­ably not an orchid – you’re just set­ting your­self up for fail­ure) and if you can keep it alive for an ac­cept­able length of time, you can move on to the next step: a pet.

Ideally here you would opt for some­thing rel­a­tively dis­pos­able, like a gold­fish or a mouse, just in case you stum­ble at this sec­ond hur­dle.

Again, if your ham­ster is still alive af­ter a year or so, you can con­fi­dently be­gin pro­cre­at­ing, smug in the knowl­edge that you are qual­i­fied for the care and main­te­nance of a hu­man.

My hus­band and I did this pro­gram com­pletely back to front.

Kids first, gold­fish next and house­plants – well, they’re an Ever­est too high to climb. Un­for­tu­nately, we on his com­pan­ions that he got stuck in the hole in the mid­dle of the un­der­wa­ter castle and drowned. He was not mourned.

Another doomed fish was in­no­cently named af­ter my son’s best friend. This is a mis­take from which we must learn. It was awk­ward when that one went belly up.

We bought the latest fish al­most fully grown; I won­der now if sub­con­sciously to con­vince visi­tors that we can han­dle tak­ing care of a cou­ple of lousy comets.

The two of them are now so big that they have to per­form three-point turns to get around – but in an in­di­ca­tor of our lack of con­fi­dence in their longevity we are wary of in­vest­ing in a big­ger tank.

So un­der our re­verse-en­gi­neered parental train­ing pro­gram our chil­dren seem to be fine – but I worry for the dog that the kids have con­vinced them­selves they will be get­ting in a year or so. If they ask us for an orchid, I’m flat out say­ing no.

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