My Child's First Pet: A Parent's Nightmare

  1. This occurred when my daughter was 4, attending all-day preschool
    Back in my full time working days
  2. I picked her up one Friday. On the drive home, she exclaims "Oh! I forgot my stick! Who will feed it?"
    Now, highly imaginative preschoolers say cryptic junk like this constantly. She mentioned one of the kids had a birthday party that day, and all the kids got sticks. When a 4 year old says something you don't understand, it's sometimes best to pretend you do (to avoid a tantrum). I sort of brushed it off: "Wow, that sounds fun. Well, we can pick it up when we go back to school Monday. Now what do you want on your pizza tonight?"
  3. Monday rolls around, she goes to preschool, I pick her up as per usual
    Standard procedure, during which I recall nothing about Friday's oddball comments. Shame on my listening & retention skills
  4. Daughter comes running to me, backpack in one hand, clear plastic box in the other
    HUGE smile on this face as she did so. Plastic box has a pink handle and (as I squint at it) appears to be filled with leaves. Hmmm
  5. She blurts excitedly all in one breath: "Mama, my stick is a mama like you so her name is Deidre!!!"
    Huh? I don't process anything other than the fact that my kid has apparently named a stick after me. Which is both sweet and strange
  6. You guessed it — the clear plastic box contains a WALKING STICK BUG
    A big one; like 6 inches long
  7. AND TWO BABIES
    Because you should obviously have more than one (*#+%^!!). They were as gross as this gif
  8. Teacher comes over with a semi-explanation
    One of the kids in the class has some stick bug pets, and apparently they breed like crazy. So the parents "kindly" brought some for each of the kids in the class to keep 😳😳😳😳 [Side bar — HOW MUCH DID THEY FREAKING BREED THERE ARE 18 KIDS WHO EACH GOT MULTIPLE BUGS HOLY MOSES]
  9. UM, WHAT
    The parents didn't ask the teachers or other parents what we thought of this. Just boom, no preamble or even instructions for care, just "here are some ugly-ass bugs in a flimsy plastic crate; feed 'em some lettuce or something"
  10. The following week is a blur
    In which I frantically Google "stick bug care" & realize that there are a bajillion different varieties of the bug in North America alone & I have no idea which kind we have. We don't know what to feed it, but try throwing in some Trader Joe's Herb Mix Spring Greens & hope the babies don't die on my watch. Daughter is ecstatic to see bugs upon waking each morning, then proceeds to ignore them the remaining 23.75 hrs of the day. I (no joke) have recurring nightmares of crawly sticks come to life
  11. After one week, I released Deidre & the babies into our backyard
    It was a lovely "freedom ceremony" for the bugs, & daughter thought she was doing something awesome for them. It's early November at that point & it's getting cold nights. I realize I'm sentencing them to their death, but thankfully my kid doesn't. She willingly accepts my adage that bug pets are only kept for 7 days, unlike those of the mammal variety
  12. My father proceeds to make me feel guilty
    Not because I deprived kid of her first pet, but because stick bugs aren't indigenous to the SF Bay Area & I may have unleashed a holy terror upon our local flora & fauna. He then laughs at me when I subsequently freak out. Butthead
  13. A month or so later...
    We're at a birthday party for a preschool friend. Bug "giving" (i.e. bug foisting) family are not there. All parents cluster together to whisper about their demon horny incestuous stick bugs that are breeding and growing at rapid rates. I tell of our release ceremony, & I can see the gleam of envy & admiration in all their eyes
  14. Somehow this experience did not convince Hubs that we should get a dog
    But for reals, babe, I grew up with dogs and will totally take care of it