THE POWER OF A NAG

Have you heard a child nag before? It’s the most annoying sound in the world, worse than any earworm song I’ve ever heard. It’s repetitive, going on and on like the wailing sound of a fire engine, but without an ounce of the melodious upbeat tempo. Seriously, you could put the sound of a child nagging on repeat and you’d have the perfect torture weapon.

Anyway, as a parent, the minute one of my children starts a nagging sesh, I get the dreads. You know the one I’m talking about? No? Well, let me explain. The dreads is like an evolutionary coping mechanism for parents. Think fight or flight response for when humans face danger, but instead it’s when parents face nagging children. The dreads activates a parent’s automatic coping mechanism whereby their mind and body goes into survival mode.

Parents in dread mode are easy to spot, their eyes tend to glaze over, some mumble incoherently to themselves, most shut down their auditory function. All these responses help fortify their mental shields to ward against exposure to sudden nag attacks. 

Undoubtedly, without this evolutionary behaviour, most parents would fall prey to the nagging wiles of their children. Unfortunately, the dreads brings about the onset of the ageing process. We literally age faster while suffering from a child’s nagging. 

Why am I harping on about this? Well, I recently fell victim to a nag attack, and feel an obligation to tell my story as a warning to would-be parents and parents alike of the dangers of giving into your child/ren. In this instance, I was blindsided by not one but two children nagging at a force of 10/10. No amount of defence or coping mechanism could protect me from that kind of onslaught, I caved faster than a house of cards. The result? I became a mother to three instead of two needy beings.

Yes, we’ve added another to our brood of four, a wee one my children have aptly named Mr Dave Hobart Turtle. One child wanted the name Dave while the other preferred Hobart. Neither were willing to compromise and so the poor turtle copped both names. I guess it’s a bit similar to hyphenated surnames, why keep to one when you could have two? 

Little Dave became our ward after suffering from neglect at the hands of my trigger-happy-retail-spending dad, who thought he could buy a couple of turtles to put into his fish tanks without doing any research on how to properly care for them. In the end, my dad relinquished his ownership when one of the turtles died and he realised turtles weren’t as easy to care for as fish. 

Despite initially being reluctant to have yet another thing to worry about, Dave has really grown on me. He’s been with us for two weeks now and every morning when he swims excitedly against the glass waiting for his food pellet, I can’t help but smile. I imagine he would say, ‘Good morning my lady, thank you for the lovely breakfast spread!’ You know, because he’s polite like that.

He was a bit skittish at first but now, Dave and I are like BFFs. We have a connection you see. Dave trusts me enough to eat right from my fingers. He will even let me rub his head – or at least that’s what I think I’m doing. Unlike a dog, it’s a bit hard to tell if I’m petting him or pushing his head down further into the water.

My husband thinks I’m crazy to think the turtle and I have bonded. My daughter, who was sick of me gloating about Dave letting me rub his head, decided to prove me wrong. Yesterday, she stuck her finger into the tank and shattered any illusion I had about special relationships. The dirty little bugger let her rub his head!

‘See Mummy, he just wants food. Doesn’t matter who puts their fingers in. You’re not special.’

Ah, Dave. I thought we had a thing. I thought we had a special bond, you and I. Remember the time I stuck my finger into your tank, and you came right up and sniffed it? Or that time you almost climbed on my hand? I thought we were BFFs!

Anyway, I still feed Dave every morning despite his betrayal. Now when I see him staring at me with his beady eyes, I imagine him being a bit more like my children. Instead of his polite aristocratic English accent, I imagine Dave nagging like my children, ‘Mummmmmmyyyy, I’m huunggggrrry! Where’s MY foood?’ I’ll bet it won’t be long before he reaches Pre-Teen Turtle age and starts rolling his eyes at me. I expect he will be turning his turtle back on me in no time. 

Back to my nagging point. It’s like children are pre-programmed with advanced psychological warfare techniques, primarily well-versed in the art of negotiation and harassment tactics. Can you imagine a world where children got what they wanted because they nagged their parents to death? A world where children won’t take no for an answer? It’ll lead to a generation of spoiled and entitled brats, who will grow into a bunch of spoiled and entitled adults, and the cycle will continue and doom Earth.

As a parent, I have a responsibility to curb the entitlement and mold these children into well-rounded and good human beings. Therefore, it is important they take accountability and responsibility for their pet turtle. This means being involved in the cleaning of Dave’s tank and feeding him (under my supervision). Have you seen turtle poo? It’s hard to believe a small turtle can drop such big whoppers. And the smell… bleugh, worse than bog water on a hot stinky day.

So without further ado, please welcome the newest addition to our family, Mr Dave Hobart Turtle. Let’s hope he survives the week under the care of my children.


Update 18/11/21: For those of you who are curious to see what a turtle poo looks like…

Spot the poop!

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PANDEMIC PETS

With ongoing pandemic lockdown, I decided that if we couldn’t leave the house in search of food and fun, I would shop online and bring it to our doorstep in the form of a pet. Great idea or what?!

My seven-year-old daughter wanted a fluffy dog. My three-year-old son wanted a fluffy cat. I wanted a pocket-sized chihuahua. Lucky for them, I was willing to compromise with a fluffy pocket-sized chihuahua that had a passing resemblance to a cat.

“No inside animals! Pets should live outside.” Regrettably, my husband was opposed to the idea of an inside pet. Bah, what a party pooper!

We argued that our fish once lived in the house and they were considered pets! Well, until the unfortunate fish massacre. Since we lost our treasured Zane (greedy angel fish) and Archie (chilled albino catfish), my husband has been reluctant to return to pet ownership.

Due to the lack of a proper backyard, we agreed that our pets needed to be hardy and low maintenance. While it was my intention to have the children be responsible for looking after our new pet, realistically I would be the chump lumped with the task. So, I wanted a pet that didn’t need regular exercise (because I hate sweating) or grooming (because I’m lazy) and could survive not eating and drinking for a few days (because I’m sketchy at best).

We are now the proud owners of a thousand new pets. You read correctly, a thousand, give or take a few and they only cost us a measly fifty dollars. Have you guessed it? Worms. Wriggly, slippery and icky worms.

They came packed in some worm bedding inside a plastic bag and packaged in a cardboard box. In true Kathy form, I threw away the instruction booklet and in doing so, inadvertently discarded the troubleshooting pages. I could have saved myself a gigantic amount of pain if I had taken the time to read the ‘what can go wrong’ pages, for I’ve encountered a great deal of problems.

There’s been the Great Plague of the Vinegar Flies caused by my overzealous feeding with organic waste. FYI, flies really love banana skins. I tried vinegar/soap fly traps, moist cut up paper scrap barriers, removed big food scraps, conditioned and aerated the soil and changed the order of the trays. I stopped adding organic waste for a few weeks and eventually, most of the flies have disappeared.

Next came the Invasion of the Black Ants caused by the worms hibernating instead of eating during a short period of blistering cold weather. I ended up googling and putting trays of water around the legs of the worm farm to prevent ants from entering the trays. I also tried to drown the suckers with extra watering.

And because of my lack of restraint, I have a problem with potworms. Turns out, an overly moist environment, abundance of rotting fruit and vegetables and ungrounded eggshells have encouraged the growth of these unwanted worms. Originally, I thought these tiny white worms were finally the results of my worm farming mastery and happy worm bliss coupling. Not the case. Again, I consulted the wise ol’ Google and was advised to put a stale piece of bread drenched in milk to entice the potworms to the surface for disposal.

Now, I have another attack of the Black Ants AND a healthy population of Prolific Potworms. Sigh. So much for low-maintenance pets. Anyone got any ideas other than gifting it to my dad?

It’s a good thing that we live in a world where information is at the tip of our fingers. For without YouTube and Google, these worms would have already died a painful death from my mismanagement and negligence. Can you get a fine for worm cruelty?

The children want nothing to do with the worm farm, complaining that it stinks (It doesn’t!). The husband isn’t interested in co-ownership, even with supposed “benefits” thrown in. I’m on my own folks.

I know people say that a pet is for life and not just for Christmas… ahem, I mean lockdown, so now I have only one question. What’s the lifespan of a worm? Or in my case, a thousand worms?

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