Drowning, not just wavering
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.