Every night at dinner, we each share two things we learned that day. Every night Zoey shares at least one thing about Skittles, the much beloved guinea pig of the lower school. “I learned that Skittles loves spinach!” Or, “I learned that Skittles poops in his food bowl!” When Demetri takes Zoey to school in the morning, they always stop and see Skittles. Zoey feeds him carrots or spinach she brings from home and then coos to him about how much she loves him. And she does love him. She has composed songs about him. Her artwork at school often involves Skittles: “We were supposed to paint a snow person but I did Skittles because he’s fat, too!” In her Pre-K classroom, each child researched and then created an animal habitat. Other kids picked snow leopards or lions. Not Zoey. She made a guinea pig habitat. It includes a couch made out of pink clay.
So last week at dinner, it was Demetri’s turn to share something he learned. “I learned,” he began with a glint in his eye, “that Skittles will be staying with us over spring break!”
While Zoey cheered and ran around the house in joy, I almost choked on my food.
“And you agreed to this?” I spluttered.
“Of course,” Demetri nodded. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Remember Tikka? You know, OUR CAT,” I countered.
“The science teacher said that was okay.”
“We’re going to be gone for four days,” I tried again.
“She said that was okay, too.”
“We don’t know anything about guinea pigs!” I started to whine. “What do they eat? How much? How do we clean the cage? How warm does Skittles have to be? HOW WARM????? WHAT EXACT TEMPERATURE!????? WE NEED TO KNOW!”
“Mommy,” Zoey had returned to the table from her victory laps around the house. “Remember? We read the book “All About Guinea Pigs” four times last week.”
“Honey, it’s a cute cuddly little animal . . .” Demetri began.
“It’s a rodent!” I folded my arms across my chest.
“What is wrong with you?” Demetri asked. “You look like you’re going to be ill.”
And then it came out. “When I was little I had a guinea pig named Snowflake and it died from a draft in the hallway after only like four days and then the replacement Snowflake my parents bought died too AND I DON’T KNOW HOW WARM GUINEA PIGS NEED TO BE!” I took a breath. “Plus, I don’t want our school legacy to be that we killed the guinea pig.”
“Don’t worry, Mommy,” Chirped Zoey. “If Skittles dies, like if Tikka eats him or something, there’s a pet store just down the street. We’ll get a new one!”
So. Skittles is coming home tomorrow. Wish me luck, wish me lots of luck.