OPINION: It's not a family, it's a zoo

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

First I had one bird. It was a handsome cockatiel that I purchased in Memphis and loved like my baby. He ruled the roost.
We cuddled and whistled together when I was home, but I felt bad leaving him alone while I worked. So after two years, I bought a second bird to keep the first company.
Two pets seemed like a normal number. Lots of families have two.
Then my husband and I had a child. Now, I know children are not pets – though sometimes they act as such – but his arrival increased the number of mouths to feed and egos to stroke.
I began to feel overwhelmed, especially when all three squawked for food and attention as soon as I walked through the door. But I managed: First I’d care for the child, feeding him and bathing him and loving him ’til his bedtime. Then came the birds, who’d perch on my shoulders and preen while I ate dinner and relaxed until I, too, went to bed.
Apparently the routine scrambled my brain, because clearly I wasn’t thinking when I decided to bring home a dog. Not just a dog, but a 75-pound lab mix with a desperate need for attention.
“I know, I know,” I explained to my incredulous husband when I told him about the dog. “But she’s been at the animal shelter a long time, and I’m afraid she’ll be euthanized if someone doesn’t adopt her.”
That someone being me.
He relented.
So then, I juggled two birds, one dog and one child who were fed, bathed, loved, entertained and exercised.
But the birds, I think, sensed their alone-time with me dwindled with each new arrival. They became resentful and started to scream.
Have you ever heard cockatiels scream? It’s not amusing – unless you’re a 3 year old; then it’s great fun to imitate the sound.
So while the birds and child scream – two in anger, one in delight – the enormous dog scrambles around my feet, tripping me while trying to steal a caress. Meanwhile, dinner is burning on the stove as the smoke alarm howls and someone keeps calling my cell phone, which I can hear but cannot find.
I’m tired, I’m hungry, I haven’t even showered yet, and I don’t think I’ve had a moment of peace in more than a year. In their demand for attention, these creatures have started a revolt. It’s mutiny at my house; I’ve totally lost control.
I curse their names – Sascha, Wilco, Lucas and Faith – and wonder why I let them into my home. Yes, even the child.
Then it happened again. I saw a bird, a handsome little cockatiel, and against all reason and good sense, I brought it home.
“But he looked so pitiful,” I told my husband, describing how someone had abandoned it at the animal shelter.
So last month Charlie joined the family – to the delight of the child, ignorance of the dog, spite of the original birds, and detriment to my sanity.
And we’ll all live happily ever after.
Or not.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

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