My middle kid has always had a soft spot for animals.
Over the years she has brought numerous living things to the house for me to “ooh and ahh” over with her. When she was little, she loved worms and snails. She once laid a worm across her nose and insisted I take her picture with “her friend.”
As she got older, she began loving birds – ducks and chickens and even baby birds that fell out of their nests. She always wanted everything she found to live with us. Many times, what she brought home didn’t survive, having already been sick or weak enough for her to be able to catch it in the first place.
She has not outgrown this tendency.
Last summer she called me to tell me she saved a chipmunk from our cat and to ask if he could stay with us until she was sure he was going to make it. I said “no.”
A couple of months ago, one of my large, clear plastic totes went missing. A few weeks went by before I saw it in this child’s room. She had turned it into a terrarium for the toad she found and “just loved.” Now she buys bait to ensure he eats properly, and she plays with him so he doesn’t get lonely.
A few weeks back, she found a litter of kittens and brought one home. She turned her bedroom into this thing’s personal playground, keeping it all a secret until the noise of it jumping around and knocking things over gave it away.
I even watched a wild bird fly into her palm last week. She let it rest there for several minutes before trying to get it to fly away. I keep reminding her she isn’t a 12-year-old boy – they are usually the ones to fill their pockets with living things and bring them home to mom.
I write all of this to tell you what happened two weeks ago. I came home and was met at the door by my girl.
She put her hands in the air and simply said, “I didn’t do it!”
Nervous, I walked in and saw my son feeding milk to seven baby rabbits with an eye dropper. He looked up at me, shrugged sheepishly and said, “I uncovered their nest when I was mowing. I figured I should try to save them.”
After slapping my forehead in disbelief, I consulted a wildlife rescuer, read all about them on Google, and came up with a game plan. He fed them with that eye dropper twice a day for the past two weeks, keeping fresh water and feed pellets in a straw-filled box with them. He fed them fresh turnip greens, blackberries, strawberries and a few slices of carrot.
Basically, everything they would have eaten from my garden!
Once we were sure they were able to survive on those whole foods, we released them back where he found them and prayed for their survival.
I’m told I’ll miss all of these antics of my children when they have homes of their own. In the meantime, I’m just trying not to go crazy from living with a couple of minor Dr. Doolittles.