Friday mornings I load all four kids in the van by 8:10am--quite an undertaking--in order to drive Emma back to the school district we used to live in so she can finish the year with the same speech preschool class. There are stores just across the way from the school that I need to visit for some of our gluten-free staples, so we drop Emma at school and do our shopping on Friday mornings. Usually it takes me the full two hours to visit two stores and get all of our supplies for the week with three kids in tow, but this morning I found myself with a short shopping list and some extra time.
We wandered the aisles slowly and stopped to see the fish. Then I looked at my watch and saw that we still had an hour to wait, so I decided to pack the kids up and take them on a new adventure--the nearby pet store. I made it clear that we were just looking, telling them it was a like a trip to the zoo--you enjoy looking and you don't expect to bring anything live home.
Naomi, Hannah, and Toby were intrigued by the friendly cockatiels. They laughed at the scurrying hamsters, and playful ferrets. Then we saw a lady cleaning out the mouse cage. She picked each mouse up by its tail and set it in a clean tank, and when the tank was full of frantically scurrying mice she cleaned out their cage. Naomi and Hannah giggled at the little mice trying to climb the glass walls, but Toby was enamored with something else entirely. The pet store lady was sucking all the old mouse bedding out with a shop vac!
"A vacoom!" he whispered with breathless excitement. I smiled and talked to him about how she was cleaning the cage. After a minute Naomi and Hannah were anxious to move on. We still had the reptile isle and the aquariums to explore, but Toby wasn't budging.
"Come on, Toby," I urged, tugging on his arm, "would you like to see some snakes?"
"No!" he insisted, "go see-um vacoom!"
I prevailed, with pure brawn, since our time was limited before we needed to pick Emma up. Toby begrudgingly glanced at the snakes and turtles and fish, but took each opportunity to steal away from my grasp and run back to the hamster aisle. It didn't seem to matter that the shop vac sat silent now as the lady placed clean bedding and supplies in the mouse cage--just to be in its presence was enough.
Hannah was full of chatter as soon as Emma was strapped in beside her in the back seat of the van. "Hey, Emma, guess where we went? We went to the pet store! And we saw some birds, and some ferrets, and some..."
"And vacoom!" Toby added. You know, if I had to have my son fall in love with something at the pet store and just insist on bringing it home, maybe I should be glad it would be a shop vac and not a puppy.