After much debate, my husband and I decided that it was time to give up Smiles, our beloved, pet bearded dragon.
We brought Smiles into our family about a year and a half ago, after some exhausting pleading from our then, 10-year-old son. When we took him home in his little plastic container, like the kind you get from takeout Chinese with air holes popped in the top, he was just a baby, no bigger than a green bean.
As we settled him into his new tank, finding a nice stick for him to perch on and a rock for him to laze, we fell in love. Or at least my husband and I did; unfortunately my son quickly tired of the huge responsibility of acknowledging him. What? How did that happen? Weren’t you going to “die” without him?
Parents are such fools.
So day in and day out, I made his little salads and picked up crickets for some crunchy protein. My husband cleaned his tank when necessary, and took him out to wander our living room. But soon it became more of a job neither of us wanted. Making sure the children stayed alive was responsibility enough.
So we decided to find a family to adopt him and I put a notice on the parent board for our community.
“Friendly bearded dragon looking for a good home. Free with tank and accessories for a family who will love him.”
I quickly received about five responses. I mean, really, who could resist that face?
One I discarded almost immediately. I didn’t like the presumptuous tone of the responder, “We will take him. When can we pick him up?”
Apparently they didn’t realize this was an adoption. There was an interview process and papers to go over with the attorney, uh, my husband, the attorney.
Two other families also didn’t make the cut. I rejected one for crimes against the English language; for using the word “there” instead of “they’re.” As in, “We think there so cute.”
We didn’t raise no illiterate lizard, so clearly they were out.
The other family asserted with strange pride that they already housed a turtle, dog, cat, hamster, fish and snake. Uh, if I wanted to give him to a pet store, I would have.
That left us with a nice sounding teacher with kids, and a family who wanted to give Smiles to their 10-year-old son who had been pining for one, as a birthday present. Hmm did they say a 10-year-old?
We went with the teacher family because they responded first, and his email trail back and forth with his wife begging her was extremely cute. Oh yeah, I went in for the background check.
We set up a time, and as we waited for him to arrive, my husband and I skittered down memory lane with Smiles.
Remember when we lost him outside in the bushes?
Remember when he fell asleep next to the couch, his body flattened to the floor and we thought he was dead?
Remember when we bought that little leash and tried walking him?
Oh good times. So many smiles, Smiles.
When the teacher arrived to take him away, I saw by the alpha stance of my husband, chest out, dragon hanging, that he was ready to give him the third degree.
“So you’re leaving him in your classroom, and not your home?”
“He’s social. Will he have an opportunity to be taken out?”
“You’re going to leave him all weekend alone?”
The man stuttered and backpedaled and in the end, my husband deemed him unfit for adoption, and he cowered off empty handed.
Alone, my husband patted Smiles on the head and cooed, “I’m not going to let just anyone take you.”
You don’t mess with a man and his lizard.
No surprise, we’re still looking for the “right” family.
— Alisa Schindler
Alisa Schindler is freelance writer who chronicles the sweet and bittersweet of life in the suburbs on her highly entertaining blog www.icescreammama.com. Her essays have been featured on Mamapedia.com and Bonbonbreak.com as well as in the book, Life Well Blogged. She is a member of “Yeah Write,” an online community for writers, where she has won the Jury Prize multiple times in the group’s weekly essay writing contest. She has just completed her first novel that she feels comfortable showing to someone other than her mother.