Animal Farm by Claire

[advert:mpu]But still, pets are an excellent way of teaching children about life, and death, about caring for something, being responsible for something, and loving something outside their own family.
I mean take sex education. Forget the books, the awkward questions, and the giggling embarrassment. Just get a pair of rabbits and sit back and watch.
‘Look Mummy!’ yelled my middle son one day after school whilst running off some steam in the garden. “They are doing it AGAIN!”
“Oh, so they are” I replied as nonchantly as possible, whilst also trying to hide a grin.
“They’re doing sex,” said my Aspie eldest, very matter-of-fact. “Look Peter!” he added, drawing my next-door neighbour’s attention over the hedge to the ‘act’ in question. “The rabbits are doing sex”. Of course being an Asperger’s child, there is no discretion with him at all. In fact I think I might hire him out as a megaphone.

Of course, 31 days later, we have five wiggly, hairless, blind, very unrabbit like babies squirming in Rosemary’s nest. “Well” says Thomas with a very knowledgeable tone, “they must have done lots of sex to get five”.

And of course after a few days the novelty of the new additions wears off, until the runt catches a cold and we have to take it to the vet. I have to say, it was in a pretty sorry state and the professional consensus was that it wasn’t likely to survive (It cost me £50 to find that out!) Still, armed with antibiotic and food supplements and accompanied by pitiful cries of “It’s not going to die is it mummy?” we bring the thing home and start the four hour feeding, putting it in a shoe box as close to the radiator as we can get it, rotating a rabbit sibling to help keep it warm “and so it don’t get lonely”.

Well, this thing lived long enough  - five days! - for even me to believe that the vet might have got it wrong. And then one morning, there it was, cold and stiff, with its bigger brother chewing on a piece of straw like it woke up every day next to a corpse.

And of course we had the tears, and the inevitable burial in the garden with me secretly wishing I could just sling it in the bin. At least it got a ceremony. The fish just get flushed down the loo!

And with one cat, two budgies, two hamsters, eight fish, six rabbits and nine Giant African Land snails left, we are taking bets on which of the remaining menagerie is going to be next!

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