It all started with a woodlouse named Rosie.
Well, actually, if I am being honest, it all started with me trying to throw away a ‘bug catching’ net.
“You never use it,” I said.
“I do,” the Girl replied.
“It’s been lying forgotten on the conservatory floor for weeks,” I argued, while at the same time cursing my lack of cleaning in
The House of the Spiders conservatory.
With that, she dashed outside to the green house and stood on precariously on the outskirts daring herself to venture inside. Ha! I thought. She won’t go in there alone and she knows the green house is not my territory. Many a clothes peg has been left abandoned near the dilapidated glass house due to my seeing an arachnid and fleeing.
Grinning at her from the window, she glanced over at me and raised her bug catching net. In a flash, she ran, flew by me and delivered a low blow.
“Daddy!” she yelled at the bottom of the stairs.
“Yes, my princess,” came the dulcet tones of The Other Half.
“Will you come catch some bugs with me?”
“Of course, my princess.”
Bugger. She won.
Tonight, there would be one more bug under my roof.
I watched them for a while as they hunted for bugs. If I am being honest, it was lovely to watch Daddy, the Dude and my Girl in the garden playing because the weather in Yorkshire has been pretty dismal. Our time in the garden has been lacking of late and due to the rain, the humidity and the fact that we live next to fields, the weeds have taken control and are holding our lawn to ransom. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a new tropical rain forest has started to sprout and we may be held responsible for the conservation of some major wildlife species in the local area.
“Mum! Mum! I’ve got a new pet!”
My stomach churned.
Don’t be a spider. Don’t be a spider. Don’t be a spider.
“I’ve got a woodlouse.”
My girl held up a clear plastic container complete with breathing holes.
“It’s my new pet. I am going to call her Rosie.”
Yeah, my heart melted a little bit.
“Daddy is going to get her some dead leaves to eat.”
So Rosie was welcomed into the family. She sat with us at dinner. She chowed down on a dock leaf while we dined on pasta. She sat next to me during bath time, watched as we wrestled the kids into their pajamas and perched on the head board as ‘The Twitching Hour’ (bedtime) began.
Finally, as the children fell asleep, the room darkened and I put each child in their respective beds. The woodlouse remain above mine. Forgotten.
It wasn’t until I was dozing at 11pm when I snapped awake remembering that Rosie was lurking nearby.
Luckily, I had The Other Half to protect me.
The following morning arrived and there was a worry that Rosie wasn’t moving. We reassured our Girl that she was sleeping and encouraged her to go to school.
All was well.
After school however, the truth had to come out. I found Rosie on her back with her little legs stiffly sticking up and told The Other Half to break the news.
“I am afraid Rosie has died,” he said in is softest voice.
She burst into tears and fell upon the bed. Once again, my heart melted.
I recalled my first experience of death; it was when our family Jack Russell, Ben, died when I was eight. I read somewhere that the true understanding of death for a child is usually when a family pet passes. Despite this being a sad experience for any child, it can be used to teach a youngster about death and how to deal with it. I just couldn’t have my daughter’s first experience of death being an upturned woodlouse on a dead leaf so I made a promise:
“We’ll get you a gold fish,” I said.
With that, Rosie was tossed onto the bed.
“I’m getting a goldfish!” the Girl yelled before scurrying out of the room.
I would have followed, but I was busy retrieving a dead woodlouse from my pillow.
The weekend arrived. And what followed was a series of threats.
“If you don’t eat your toast, you won’t get a goldfish,”
“If you don’t have morning wee, you won’t get a goldfish,”
“If you don’t get dressed for ballet, you won’t get a goldfish,”
After five minutes of chasing my naked daughter around a room lassoing a ballet skirt around my head, she was finally dressed for ballet.”
“Can I get a goldfish now?” she asked.
My response should have been: “Well, actually no you can’t because after kicking off about not having your own plate of toast, you refused to eat it, you then cried until you got a ‘breakfast’ Jelly Baby. Then there was the refusal to go to the toilet and the refusal to get dressed, which resulted in me pulling you out of the bathroom (where Daddy was) by your legs and you kicking me while I was trying to get you to step into your leotard.”
What I actually said was: “Yes, you can have a goldfish after ballet.”
“Oh, I hate ballet.”
She actually loved ballet and was beaming when I picked her up. We were going to get a fish.
When arriving at ‘Pets at Home’, we steered her around all fluffy animals and all the critters that cost more than £2.50 each. We came to a stop at the goldfish bowls, picked the smallest, picked our plants and went to find an assistant.
“You can buy everything now except the goldfish,” a lady advised. “The tank has to be active for three days.”
Placidly, The Other Half replied ‘OK’, and paid for the goods.
Once outside I said: “You have no intention of waiting three days do you?”
“Nope,” came the reply.
One McDonalds later and we were home setting up the tank. Now, to give The Other Half his dues, he does his research before purchasing anything and the tank was cleaned, prepped and set up.
A few hours passed and we were on our way to our local garden centre. Two fish were picked (a bargain at £2 each) and we were on our way home again.
An hour later and the fish had a new home.
“Mine is called Petal and my brother’s is called Sam,” the Girl declared.
With the fish perched high upon the sideboard, the Dude didn’t appear to care that his sister had named his fish for him. He was more concerned with licking the spilt Fruitshoot from the rug.
I forced the two to come together for the obligatory ‘look what we’ve done this weekend’ picture for Facebook and I could see the excitement begin to drain from my Girl’s eyes.
“I want a dog, Mummy,”
I glanced over at the fish and was thankful for their seven second memory span. The poor things.
I glanced at the Dude who was happily filling up a pink toy pram with faux coal from the defunct fireplace and I was thankful that the only thing he knew about fish was how to eat a battered one.
I glanced at the pile of ironing I was about to embark upon and then back at my lovely, sweet, gorgeous and ungrateful little girl.
Shaking my head, tears began to fall. They were not mine.
“Mummy, I want a dog. Will you get me one tomorrow?”
I thought then of Rosie, poor, sweet dead Rosie. She would be turning over in her grave at the thought of her owner’s fickleness. Well, at least she would be if she hasn’t died on her back with her legs up in the air.
I guess I will be the one feeding the fish and cleaning them out.
Could always give them to the Dude to eat.
Can you believe you’ve read at least 500 words about a dead wood louse?!