We have a pet human. My girls have always been pestering me for a pet--any pet--for the past couple of years and I've always hedged in my replies, although I did get them seeds once. Pet plants. Lately Ive taken them hunting for bugs in the garden. We look for slugs by following the slime trails and caterpillars by looking for leaves with holes in them. Grasshoppers are more difficult to catch.
They have become adept at catching caterpillars, putting them in their emptied-out Play-Do jars with holes in them and stuffing it with fresh leaves for the critters' sustenance. They have successfully nurtured a few caterpillars to pupa-hood, but havent succeeded in nurturing them to butterfly-hood. My guess is that the caterpillars need fresh leaves and the plucked out leaves my kids give them for food dont have enough nutrition for them to develop into butterflies. Or maybe they need sunshine and air and freedom. They probably change into pupas as a matter of course, knowing full well that they won't change into butterflies in which case they give up all hope, weave their cocoons, and wait for death, their cocoons at the same time their death shrouds and coffins. Pretty convenient to be able to weave your own death shroud and coffin when all you have to look forward to is death without fulfilling your potential.
Anyway, back to our pet human. The wife came home from Masbate and she brought some fresh-milk-and-pili-nut pastillas, barako coffee, and sisi. These are oysters preserved in salt and oyster juice. My oldest daughter loves them. "They look like eyeballs," she said. She also brought some dried fish, imported clothes from the ukay-ukay, and a two-month old baby boy. Her cousin, she said, got some Japayuki pregnant and she left him with the baby and he couldnt take care of it so would my wife please take the little tyke? She didnt consult me about it and I was a bit upset by this of course since the care and feeding of 2 daughters isnt easy, especially if one of them eats like a construction worker. ("I'll go on a diet when Im 8," she said. She also said the same thing when she was 6, "I'll go on a diet when I'm 7.")
What can I do? I cant ask the wife to take the baby back, so what the heck. Baby stays. Cute little bugger. He gurgles and coos when you talk to him and he has a dimple on his left cheek, and his right ear is slightly larger than his left ear. We hope his ears would even out eventually. He also has this baby smell that's a cross between caramel and cheese, especialy on his neck and between his little fingers. His head smells like coconut husks and cheese. His name is A.J., the wife says, but me and the girls decide to call him Stinky.
The girls can't get enough of Stinky. They take turns smothering him with kisses and pass him around like a puppy, which is a bit scary sometimes because they might drop him on his head. But I let them play with him although sometimes they might get a bit rough with him. (I dont think there's an English word for gigil.) Ive taken to the little tyke as well, checking him from time to time to make sure he's still alive and all that. It's amazing how everyone's maternal instincts get piqued by the presence of a baby, even though genetically, we dont have enough stake in keeping the baby alive. I guess nature hard-wired us with instincts that would make us respond to babies like we do to ensure their survival. My girls are 7 and 9, and they have those instincts too. Amazing.
So thrice a week, Im off to the supermarket buying diapers and formula; something I never thought I'd do again. The first thing I do when get home from work is to check up on Stinky and smell his fingers. He's at that stage where he's trying to put his fists in his mouth but he keeps missing. I say Hi and he stops trying to put his hands in his mouth and says something unintelligible and mostly vowels but I understand what he's trying to say. He's saying, "Great, youre here. Me too" and he'll show off his one dimple then tries to put his fist in his mouth again and ends up poking his eye. What a weirdo.