Last night I dropped my kids off with their dad at a different, but very familiar spot. “My favorite pet store,” my daughter, E, exclaimed as we passed the pet store off of exit six in Stamford. We went there almost daily the winter that her sister was a newborn. Somehow going there satisfied all of our needs that winter. In fact, it was such a comfort to me that I tell every mother who laments about running out of things to do in the winter that they should go to the pet store! I do in fact tell them with all of the enthusiasm that an exclamation point indicates. Sometimes they look puzzled and sometimes intrigued, which is when I tell them all that a pet store has to offer.
Since there is a fancy coffee shop close to my pet store, we always went there first and so should you. After you spend $25 on coffee, pumpkin bread and chocolate milk you will be ready to enter the pet store. Swing a left when you walk through the automatic doors. There you will find the fish tanks, right after the freezer that contains frozen, dead rats. If you are lucky it will be feeding time and the store staff will be feeding the fish, this is a real treat. You may feel slightly embarrassed that you are there not to purchase one of the fish but simply just to look at them. It is, however, a big mistake to purchase any sort of pet during these visits. This is of utmost importance. If you do, you will be badgered to purchase more and more pets at each visit and then you can no longer go there.
After your child is bored of looking at the fish and frogs they will, of course, want to see the crickets in the center of the fish section. You will be required to lift up your child to see the few crickets that are alive among the hundreds of dead ones. You will say that these crickets are sleeping. It won’t matter anyway because at this point your child will notice that the kitten section is the next stop. Your child will almost leap out of your arms and dart over to the kittens. You will want to stop your child from banging on the windows that contain mostly sleeping kittens, but you may be too tired.
At this point a nice woman will emerge from the kitten den and gently remind your child not to frighten the kittens. Your child will be given a long stick with a feather at the end. This will last for a few minutes until boredom sets in and you are headed down the kitten toy aisle. There will be many toys scattered on the ground after being shaken and inspected. You pick them up and quickly toss them back in the bins because a dog on its way to be groomed has been spotted and your wee one has taken off. You arrive at the scene just in time to give instructions not to “put your face near her.” The dog’s owner will either bend down and engage your child or act uncomfortable as if somehow her pet will be injured. You take note of this and realize that to some people your precious offspring is not adorable but is instead a possible threat to their dog.
You will come into contact with many of these people on your visits. It’s best not to take it personally. It will only last a moment though until your child sees the chinchillas or the dogs across the way in the doggy day care. This will be a tough decision. Let’s say that there is a beeline to the dogs, which is most likely what will happen. You will be facing a large glass window and behind it, dogs from many different breeds. There will likely be one or two that will run over and greet you and your party. Most likely a French Bulldog or Jack Russel Terrier. The staff inside will be cleaning up pee and poo and making sure the dogs are safely going down the plastic slide in the center of the room.
You are almost at the end of your excursion now. You will have two choices, you can go back to the fish and do the loop around one more time, or you can leave. Either are fine choices. Hopefully, you found it to be a pleasant way to spend a cold winter morning with your little one and that you heeded my warning and aren’t leaving with a bag of fish or some sort of rodent.
What unexpected places do you like to take your children for a little bit of adventure?