Sometimes You Have to Lie

About four years ago we were driving to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. My two sisters and I were squished in the backseat, and somehow the topic of my middle sister’s old guinea pig came up. The guinea pig had been a pet when my sister was twelve, and when this happened she was seventeen, so it had been a while.  It’s a long story but my middle sister is kind of adopted, so she has different parents and her mother passed away five years ago. Well, my parents, my younger sister, and I all knew that her mother had released the guinea pig into the wild and to its death. Annie had released it because once the newness wore off my sister had quit taking care of it. Well, Annie had told my sister that she had taken it to a nice farm to live the rest of its life happily. When the topic came up we said something unaware that Annie never told my sister the truth.

My sister was outraged, “Mom lied to me! You mean she killed him instead?!”

“Technically a hawk or an owl probably killed him,” I added, wondering why Annie had lied.

duck duck 22.PNG

Down at the wildlife center, we made the decision last week to euthanize one of our long term patients. She had come into the center in October of 2015, with an old beak fracture that had healed crooked leaving her tongue hanging out of her beak. After awhile she was lovingly named Duck Duck and soon became everyone’s best friend. We let her roam around the center and she would come when we called her.

We had baby duck eggs that successfully hatched, so we assigned Duck Duck the role of surrogate mother. The baby ducks are in an aquarium to acclimated both Duck Duck and the babies to each other.  She was a very eager and euthanistic surrogate mom!

Over Christmas break Nelson and Duck Duck had a brief romance, they were inseparable. They would eat out of each other’s food bowls, eat each other’s poop, and even slept together. It was true love! Probably not though because animals don’t think like that, but it was still adorable! 🙂

Our veterinarian finally came to the conclusion, that we had exhausted all of our options of realigning her beak and so she made the difficult decision. It wasn’t fair to keep an animal alive that cannot feed herself without assistance.

Duck Duck was my kid’s favorite animal at the center and she was always eager to say hi to Duck Duck before any of the other animals. And of course being the friendly duck that she was, she always quacked back. I knew I had to tell my kid something to explain the disappearance of Duck Duck and I didn’t think euthanasia was an appropriate topic for a six-year-old.

My kid hanging out with Duck Duck one day at the center. Normally we do not interact with the animals but it was pretty clear that Duck Duck was already too friendly and was never going to be released, so we broke the rules and befriended and named her. I further broke the rules by allowing a kid to hang out with a ‘wild’ animal. With some animals, it’s okay to bend the rules because you know they will never be ‘wild’ again

So yesterday I lied to her, “Duck Duck went to a new home.”

Bursting into to tears, my kid responded, “Why? I didn’t get to say goodbye! I love Duck Duck!”

“It was for the best, she’s in a happier place now,” I said trying to console her and keep up with the lie.

Her mother then asked me, “Where did she go? Did she go to another center?”

Quickly thinking, “We know a lady with a farm and a nice pond.”

Then I changed the subject. Now I understand why Annie had lied. Losing a pet to a new home is hard enough to comprehend for a child without mentioning death. My kid is heartbroken that she won’t see Duck Duck again. If she knew the truth she would be devasted. Sometimes with kids, you have to lie to ease the pain, to shield them from the stark truth of real life.

Duck Duck

Daily Word Prompt: Filter

“Oh my God,” I muttered, the words slipping out of my mouth before I could consciously register the impact of those three words.

The small groupomg of third graders I was tutoring at the moment became utterly silent. Ironically it was the first time I got them to actually be quiet and pay attention. Then they gasped in horror gaping at me. Low murmurs arose, “You just said the Lord’s name in vain!”

Backpedaling, I struggled to amend what I had said and regain my place of authority as a teacher. After receiving an admonishing lecture from my students and they had received my promise to respect the Lord’s name, the tutoring blessedly continued.

The words had slipped out in response to a student who had said something inappropriate and in return, I had said something that crossed the line of appropriateness. In fact, my words had broken one of the Ten Commendments. The same Ten Commandments that have absolute rule over the rural Southern Appalachian town I live in. A town where the locals are loyal, kind, and above all God fearing folk.filter

I knew that learning to be a teacher also meant learning how to filter my words but the filter is not the same in every town, in every school. It was a harsh lesson to
learn but one that I will never forget. That was over one year ago, and I am proud to say that my filter has been refined and that phrase has not been uttered again in the presence of my students.

Image from http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3oc1a3 and http://nancybethguptill.blogspot.com/2015/06/choose-your-words-wisely.html.

via Daily Prompt: Filter

Save the Endangered Spices

In the evenings I help homeschool a six year old who does virtual public school. She is an incredibly analytical deep thinker with a passion for learning. A few days ago, she gets this idea that she wants to create a book about endangered species because she wants to learn more about why they are endangered. I agree and told her to go grab some construction paper, while she does this I pull up the World Wildlife Foundations as a starting place for research. She comes running back with the paper and sits back down in front of her computer. “Endangered sp-spices?” She reads, “Spices?” The image of everyone struggling to save oregano and chili powder come to mind, hurry we need more thyme to save them all!

Trying not to laugh at the mistake, I corrected her, “Species.” She studies the word before repeating back to me, “Species.” Yet, all throughout creating the book she kept saying “spices.” Oh, well at least she wants to save the endangered spices.

It was interesting listening to all of the questions she kept asking and the comments she would make,

“Why do people hurt snow leopards they are sooo cute!”

“Don’t people understand that the snow leopard isn’t eating people’s animals to be mean? They just want dinner like everyone else!”

“The ice is melting where the polar bears live! We have to stop it!”

“Why are people building on their homes? Why can’t everyone just get along? Tigers are just sooo cute!”

The commentary and questions never ended but it was adorable and humorous. Turns out my kid (as I affectionately call her because we spend so much time together) is the kind of person who has so much empathy that she cries at cute pictures of animals and the idea that people don’t respect animals.

This picture prompted her into hysterical laughter!

This image is from National Geographic Kids.

Here are two images that made her cry. She cried at the tiger because it was sooo cute and she cried at the tusks because she couldn’t comprehend why anyone would take them.

African Elephant Confiscating Conflict ivory

The tiger image is from National Geographic Kids and the tusks image is from World Wildlife Foundation.