That was the plan at least. My seemingly innocent proposal was, “If you catch one, of course you can keep it.” I was pretty sure they would not be able to catch a lizard, Mateo was 6, Lucas was 5 and the lizards in our backyard in Arizona were pretty darn fast. It was just about dark, when they scurried out of house, flashlight and mason jar in hand.
I remember having that glorious parenting feeling of winning an argument without arguing and thinking I was pretty smart too. Actually, I felt that way for the better part of an hour, until my sweet little boys came back running into the house with (brace yourselves) a lizard in a jar! Yep, there it was, a real, live lizard. They were already talking about what to call it and what to feed it, there was no “Can we keep it?” question, I pretty much dug that hole all by myself. Who knew, some lizards are nocturnal.
The next day a trip to the pet store was in order. The guy at the store said the boys somehow managed to capture a leopard gecko, it was a cute little one. We bought all the supplies that go with a pet lizard and named it Spots. Over the course of a week, I convinced the boys to let Spots go since he was wild and probably was miserable inside a cage not being able to run free; the boys agreed, but only if we went back to the pet store and got one of their leopard geckos that was never wild. It was close to Mateo’s birthday and he chose the new leopard gecko and named him Anchor.
For a while all was well at the Reeves’ household. The boys took turns having the lizard tank in their room until the week of Lucas’ birthday, when he thought that he could also go to the pet store and pick another lizard. He articulated his case very well and we ended up giving in. He pleaded desperately for a snake, knowing full well that was impossible for me, so when he “settled” for just a lizard, it felt like another victory. Lucas named his lizard Hooky. And once again, peace was restored to the Reeves’ household.
One day Mateo and Greg were letting Anchor run around our bathroom floor, closely watched, when he disappeared through the trim, into the tiniest of cracks between the vanity and wall. Poor Mateo was in tears. So, we called a plumber with one of those tiny cameras they can poke into all kinds of places, but instead of looking for a leak, we instructed him to look for a lizard, which he did, with Mateo over his shoulder the entire time. He even went into the attic and tried looking down into the walls. It was to no avail. Anchor had been with us for nine months. He was so tame and loved hanging out on Mateo’s shirt while he did homework or read. And now he was gone.
Needless to say, we went back to the pet store. Tiny came home with us that day. We hoped Anchor would not die inside our walls and stink up the whole bathroom. At some unknown point, late at night, one or possibly two little boys would release crickets and/or mealworms in the bathroom, hoping to coax little Anchor out of hiding. That was fun (not!).
Six months later, on a night when Greg is out of town and the kids are already in bed, I come face to face with Anchor. He scared me so bad I jumped and screamed, after I recovered I gently put him in a portable cage. He was so skinny, pale and not moving much at all. I thought Anchor was definitely going to die but with much nursing he made a full recovery. It wasn’t much longer after that Lucas pointed out that Mateo had two lizards and he only had one. And that’s how we got Stripes.
I definitely learned my lesson, just keep it simple: “No Lucas, you cannot have a pet snake, even if you catch one!”
So without anymore delay, I present you Anchor, Hooky, Tiny and Stripes!
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