Jack has always loved critters for as long as I can remember. His initial love affair was with fuzzy stuffed animals. The fuzzier the better. He loved our fuzzy cat who didn't love his sticky fingers quite as much. After that he moved onto elephants. Whenever he saw one he would point and make an elephant trumpet noise. We bought him stuffed elephants, mini elephants, books with elephants. We loved hearing his little trumpet noise. Then it was giraffes and soon we had a whole safari in our house.
From there we moved on to frogs. Oh boy...lots of frogs. Live frogs. He could be outside for one minute and find a frog. We considered him a frog whisperer. One day, he played for hours in the yard with a frog he had found. He moved throughout the yard in cement mixers, bulldozers, and moving vans. Not wanting to see his new friend hop away, he apparently imprisioned him in the moving van for 2 hours in the hot sun. Jack was devestated when he realized his friend went to the great frog farm in the sky. This was our first of many frog funerals.
The next day I came home from work to find Jack on top of the dirt pile in the backyard playing with a rubber frog. "He's moved on...great!" I thought. But as I got closer I began to think "huh...we don't have any rubber frogs..." It was then I realized he had dug up his dead frog friend and was playing with him. Dead or not, he still liked him.
After frogs came turtles and to this day Wally the Turtle is still swimming in his tank in his room. Apparently they can live to be 25....we have already made it very clear that he is going to college with Jack.
Then came the salamanders. Hours of hunting for salamanders. Constanly researching them. Buying books on them. I had to draw the line when I was picking up his pants on the floor and out feel a limp salamander. "Jack!!" He just wanted to keep it. The next day we went to Petco and $50 later we had a salamander house, special moss to keep them moist, and a swimming pool. It was like a boy version of a Barbie house. I loved it.
I did not love the call I got two weeks later at work. I picked up the phone to a blood curdling scream from Jack. I couln't even understand what was happening. My parents were up visiting and all I could imagine was that something happened to one of them. Turns out the cats had overturned the salamander house and they had gone missing. Oh my God. Salamanders lose in the house? We found them a few weeks later, dried up in the corners of his room. Aaaaahhh!
Oh the cats. After our cat of 14 years died, I waited 6 months until I was ready to love a fuzz ball again. When I was ready, we decided to get a brother and sister kitten combo that were irresistable and they became Christmas presents. Jack said it was the best Christmas ever. I told the kids to name them whatever they wanted but when they came up with Little Grey and Buddy, I couldn't do it. We ended up with Sadie and Buddy. I had to let him keep Buddy in the end because I realized that is all he ever wants...some little animal buddy to just love him all day long. Turns out Buddy is truly his buddy. They sleep together almost every night. He follows Jack everywhere like a dog. He even gets a little depressed when Jack isn't home for awhile.
When he was fishing with a friend last weekend, Jack came across a bunch of polliwogs. Sure enough, the next day, he and Tim were zooming off in the Jeep to score some 'wogs. Within an hour they were swimming in our backyard with names.... I can't tell you how many times in my life I have repeated the phrase "We really shouldn't name wild animals..."
Jack is growing up quick and is going into the 9th grade in less than 6 months. On Monday, he was eager to get going to the bus...or so I thought. As I watched him walking away, he quickly made a dash for the backyard, digging in his pocket for something. He had filled his pocket with turtle food...for the polliwogs. When he came back around the corner he saw me looking and his face broke into a big grin. "It's my job to feed them!" he yelled and then he ambled off to the bus.
I hope whatever he does for a career it involves animals. I also have a very real fear that he is going to turn into Dr. Doolittle and end up living with a horse in his living room and a duck in his tub.