In the meantime, I turn to my few students to explore life's pressing questions. As a private tutor, my multiple classrooms of one never fail to delight and enlighten me. The other day I posed the following question to a 4th grader: “Do you think a monkey would make a good pet? Why or why not?” He wrote:
“No because in real life monkeys are not pets. They have deseases and I do not no any vets who deal with monkeys and I dont no anybody who owns a monkey. And they are proboly dangerus.”
|So cute, and yet so dangerus.|
Upon further consideration, he added that a monkey might tear up your house or hurt you. Sage advice! I reminded him, however, that the late Michael Jackson once had a pet monkey named Bubbles. Unfortunately, I couldn’t recall if Bubbles died, was removed from Jackson’s care, or if the pop superstar relinquished the chimp voluntarily. In our subsequent discussion, I noted that the question did not specify chimp or other monkey--your Squirrel monkeys, ring-tailed lemurs. The kind that steals your glasses while you are sightseeing in Costa Rica. These mischevious monkeys probably would not be open to learning sign language or watching “Sesame Street.”
I took the opposite approach in my response:
“I think a monkey would make a great pet. First of all, monkeys are very smart. I could teach it sign language and we could talk. Second, monkeys are very cute. [Perhaps my weakest argument] They have kind, brown eyes and lots of soft fur. Finally, monkeys do not need a lot of care. [Who am I kidding?] They can do many things, like feed themselves, without help. Monkeys also probably like to watch TV, so I could just plop mine there and have him watch ‘Sesame Street.’”
My approach to childcare and monkey tending are disturbingly similar.
After Christmas I put my sewing on hiatus to reacquaint myself with the preparation of real food, not simply opening a box of breaded whatever from Trader Joe’s. I suppose my motivation is part guilt, part inspiration. I used to enjoy cooking before I had children. Now I am cooking for them, in a short order chef sort of way. The dog is happy, because she’s getting three square meals per day plus dollops of Greek yogurt and any human food the kids throw on the floor. It’s good!
Next time, I lament the tragic loss of the ingredient that made junk food delicious--the much maligned trans fatty acid. We could still be enjoying the flaky greasy goodness it has to offer if it weren't for the fact that our government believes we cannot control ourselves around them. The experts may be right, but Cheeze-Its are simply not the same. Also, my students help me launch a written campaign to bring back the trans fats!