Thursday, October 23, 2008
A SHEEP IN THE BASEMENT
WonderBunny: Pirate of the seas
My friend Ann R. grew up here in Glenview (a suburb just out of Chicago) which is close enough to the city to be more city than suburb. A hundred years ago there were a handful of farms but all that is left is Wagner Farm which our Park District bought and runs so our kids can see what we used to see when we visited our grandparents. But Ann is a real city girl and did not even have grandparents with farms.
So I imagine it was rather a surprise to her when her daughters expressed interest in joining the 4H club .
Ann is a good mom and so she signed her girls up and they went to their meetings at Wagner Farm and they bought their animal. They were to raise it, show it at the fair, and ship it off to where all farm animals get shipped off in the end (and I don't mean a petting zoo). During that first year, they started small, with a sheep (they have since graduated to cows). They went every day in all kinds of weather to feed the sheep and muck out the barn. Her daughter Olivia was a tireless caregiver but since she can't drive yet that means her mother was a tireless driver. At one point in the dead of winter sheep grew ill and needed round the clock nursing.
So Ann did what any good mom would do. She put the sheep in her car and took it home. It stayed one week in her finished basement.
This is really one of the greatest things about being a parent. One day you're pregnant and the next you have a sheep in the basement. At no point in the process before having kids do you think, "Gosh, what fun my kids will get me into! Maybe someday I can have livestock in my own basement." No. You really cannot see where these wonderful people will take you. Which is probably just as well because what sane person would sign on for that?
But it turns out that if you're really doing your job and letting your kids be who they should be (and not just some creation for your own amusement/fulfillment) you will find yourself not just learning new stuff but learning stuff about stuff you didn't even know existed (4-H in Glenview?).
And this is how I found myself last night at an animal shelter in the city, sitting in a crappy concrete building, watching WonderBunny (that's him above, isn't he fetching in his pirate costume...don't ask, that's another blog altogether) have a "bunny bonding" session with a girl bunny named Suzie Q (they're both fixed, get your mind out of the gutter). Because it turns out that if you want your bunny to have a partner (and Lilly makes a compelling argument for this) you need to first have your bunny spend time with the potential pal. So they meet in a caged-in area while a trained rabbit professional keeps them semi-separated with a special tool (a grease-spatter shield) so they can sniff each other but not bite or scratch. You must repeat the bunny bonding process several more times. Then and only then will the two buns bond. Who knew? Lilly did. She'd done all the research and knew all of this ahead of time.
As I sat on the cold metal folding chair, watching the "bunny bonding" process and keeping an eye on the incontinent shelter cat who had already peed on my purse and reflecting on the many other ways I may have chosen to spend my Thursday evening, I had one of those "What the hell am I doing here?" moments that happen so frequently as you parent.
Then Lilly sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, "Oh Mama, I'm so happy that WonderBunny will finally have a partner that I can't breathe. Thank you so much for bringing me here."
And I had my answer.