How To Survive...Other People's Pets - The M Word

How To Survive…Other People’s Pets

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I had a warm fuzzy feeling at the prospect of bidding Dublin adieu for a week and heading down the country, with my three small children. The children would spend the days climbing trees and playing chasing whilst I would sit on a blanket and read. In a week, I would learn to crochet and make batches of baby sauce from the apple trees a la Diane Keaton. The only drawback was that I would have to mind a brood of chickens, three dogs and some fish.

‘They’re not just any fish’, warned my sister, ‘There’s the Discus…’ (Or was it the shotput?) and a variety of other species that she listed off that I had to mind. I poo pooed her, a fish is a fish, besides don’t I have two yokes at home that circle round and round in a bowl. (It’s important to note that my sister’s aquarium is about half the size of my kitchen.)

I bid my sister farewell and told her to go off and enjoy Malta and began flicking through recipes.

The next morning, the cockerel belted out a tune so loud I thought I felt the house shake. I fumbled for my phone. Half past five. Nice. He was feeling sprightly and refused to stop which encouraged the three dogs to join in song.

‘Mummy! Mummy! We have to feed the chickens and let the dogs out’, screamed the little ones wiping off the sleep from their faces. Hiking up our brand new wellies we set off, fed the chickens and my daughter insisted on laying out new bedding. Back to the house, we checked the clock,  6.05am…

Made myself an extra strong coffee and as I turned my back, my littlest one announced that he had fed the fish. The entire contents of the jumbo pack of Weetabix generously and evenly distributed. An absolute feast!

‘Oh God, oh God!’, I muttered not wishing to hurt his feelings, but not wishing to fork out thousands of Euros on little scaly things either. I grabbed the largest bucket and began scooping, releasing back little wriggly things as I did and praying to hell, I would not be forced to resuscitate. ‘Hold your breaths little ones and back off the wheat!’ I squealed, scooping furiously and not knowing whether the dripping down my nose was sweat or a mix of salty Wheaties. I added more water. ‘Mum, not the tap–use the filtered water!’ the little ones advised gently, as my arms convulsed with pain.

An hour later, I returned to my coffee. Cold. Clock check. 07.05am flashed boldly in red. I turned on the kettle.

‘Mum are the chickens supposed to be flying around the garden?’ asked Number 3, innocently. No,I surmised wearily. They aren’t. Two hours later, the last and final chicken Mildred,was returned safely. 09.05am. Boil kettle. Again.

‘Umm Mummy, I think we’re missing two dogs…’ declared Number two cheerfully. I had been permitted my first sip of caffeine. The door bell rang and I wondered who could possibly be visiting us at this early hour, even though it was now magically lunchtime and the kids were starving.

‘Howya! Are you missing dogs?’ It was a neighbour who had spotted our two trotting side by side up the road. ‘I am indeed!’ I smiled weakly as we got into the car to search for the escapees. They were having a ball in the stream nearby and refused pointedly to return. ‘I’ve got this kids!’ as we chased after each one and finally got them into the car, dripping in mud.

My sister rang. ‘Everything ok?’ I stared at the cloudy aquarium, the pile of brown towels I would need to replace and the squeals of laughter bellowing from outside as the dogs dried themselves on the kids. ‘Best day ever!’ I replied, hot coffee at hand. Only six to go but who’s counting?

Aedin Fiel
Aedin Fiel
Laugher, expert fly killer and Jaffa cake devourer. Presently juggling a job, three kids, a husband and a dog. Working off three diaries and constantly forgetting birthday parties and play dates. Striving to be the perfect mother but to quote Robert Frost - I have miles to go before I sleep!