Our new pet | Kim Kelley Photography

We had a new pet!

Then we had a life lesson in dying.

(And a subsequent lesson on how to care for living beings.)

The girls found a “baby” lizard in our backyard today. And after daring (and begging) each other to pick it up, Payton finally bit the bullet and scooped him up and threw him into a sand bucket.

She screamed like he was covered in razors slicing through her hands for the 15 milliseconds she actually was touching him. Harper laughed hysterically and told her how she was being ridiculous. But then refused to touch him herself. Neither are big fans of reptiles, bugs, etc. But Payton can get the job done if need be.

They named him Rocky and then they scurried around trying to find him a home, food, and a “habitat”.  Education in action. Although, if you can’t really find a suitable habitat, education goes out the window and you do whatever you can do to keep this guy contained.  Score: a tall plastic tube with a string handle on the top. Just dump out all the ping pong balls in there, and wa-la, a lizard home.


It was a horrifying 4 hours as Rocky traveled from room to room, getting a tour of the house while swinging in a ping pong ball carrier.  (for clarification, when I wrote “horrifying”, I’m not sure if I’m referring to how he felt, or how I felt. I was convinced the girls would drop the carrier and he’d run through the house and find a place to hide until he died there. But I’m sure his emotions were not far from horrified either.)


They made sure the bunny met the new pet.

As in typical bunny fashion: he didn’t care. Didn’t even look at Rocky as far as I could tell, even though they pushed his head down to try to make eye contact.





I love the excitement that they exhibit when taking on a new project. Rocky was no exception.

The rock and the one straw of grass (and that brown squiggly, dry looking thing right in the center of the carrier) were the first attempts at making him feel at home. But Payton knew that wouldn’t last long, living conditions would need to improve.

So they resumed begging, this time, to make a trip to PetsMart. They were sure they could make a good home for Rocky.

Payton even made a list:





Who even knows if lizards like sunflower seeds??? But who cares. At least crickets were crossed off the list. No way I would be purchasing crickets to feed this wild lizard.

But I was refusing to take them to PetsMart anyway. I just didn’t want to. I knew this guy wouldn’t survive long, and I didn’t want to purchase (really anything) too much for him.

But we did have to leave. We had ice skating lessons to get to, so I rushed them out the door. They left Rocky in the ping pong ball carrier, outside, in the (oops!) direct sunlight.  Not sure how hot it actually gets in a plastic tube in the sun, but obviously too hot for lizard survival.

Yep, Rocky was dead when we got home. Thank GOODNESS I didn’t cave in and go to PetsMart first!  They were sad, for a few minutes, then they moved on to the next activity.  I was relieved there were no tears shed, but a little surprised at the harshness of their moving on so fast. So we had a quick debriefing on how to care for living things. I think they heard me.  At least I can refer to Rocky’s short life the next time they start begging for a puppy!

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