Meet Squawker McCaw. This computerized bird is as close to a pet as we're going to get here, until I'm gainfully employed and we can potentially afford $500.00 teeth cleanings for a non-shedding, non-yippy, non-drooly, very Zen dog that exists in some magical universe. I'd love a pet, personally. I've been lobbying for a guinea pig for years, to no avail. For a while, I was very hung up on a beautiful Border Collie found on Petfinder. I even wrote to inquire about her, only to find out she probably would not find my two small children delightful.
My husband is really stubborn about practical matters! Like the fact that woodchips and saltlicks for a rodent probably are not in the budget.
So I got this parrot for Hannah for Christmas a few years back. It's so lifelike (if you ignore the sounds of gears working) that Hannah has taken to telling people we have an actual parrot. Once, in class, she told everyone that her parrot was sick. Prayers for Squawker's well-being were commenced, and I had to gently tell her teacher that Squawkers runs on a shitload of double A's, gets the hiccups after 'eating' a biscuit too quickly, and farts via remote control. So it is a pet in the way that my children have strong feelings for it, but it is not a pet in the more traditional, beating-heart kind of way.
Poor Squawker's right foot has been broken for a while. Dropped by an overstimulated Lillian one afternoon, it came off. David has tried valiantly to repair the fracture over and over, and announced the last time it came off that one more break and Squawkers would unfortunately have to take up residence in the nearest landfill. I was not around for this proclamation, or if I was, I tuned it out as just another shit-said-by-dad kind of thing.
Well, yesterday was the day.
Squawkers, with right foot severed once again, was placed in the trash and taken out. This was done without anyone's knowledge but the offending party's. After the original McCaw-Destroyer had gone to bed, I found David and Hannah in the sunroom creating a Tinkertoy airplane.
Casually, David brought up Squawker's new whereabouts, and instantly, Hannah started a trembling cry, looking for me to intercede. Which I did.
"That thing cost me $75.00."
"I said it would be trashed the next time the foot came off."
"The kids really love it."
"I'm tired of trying to repair that foot."
"It's really a great toy. You know, if we can't get a REAL pet."
"It's in the trash!"
With an amazingly dramatic sigh and a few curse words, David made his way out to the trash cans. The brightness of the outside garage light silhouetted him as he lifted the lid. I watched as the dark shape of him blended in with the trash can and the bag. I watched his movements for a while, wondering if Squawkers would be covered in some kind of post-meal debris. I envisioned pizza sauce all over manufactured wings, or cantaloupe seeds in a mechanical beak. Finally, I saw David lift it up and turn, the hooked beak of our toy-shop pet recognizable in the spotlight.
Squawkers was back home, broken foot and all, completely clean. Down into the basement David disappeared, coming back up a few moments later with Squawker's foot wrapped tightly in wire. The bird leaned a bit to the side, but turning it on, we were greeted with a loud "Hel-lo!" and then a "What-ever!"
Apparently, it doesn't hold a grudge.
Hannah went to bed happily, without holding one either.