I have decided that the evils of television may not be quite as bad as I am prone to preach about. The children have discovered 'Animal Planet,' a channel showing non stop wild life of every kind. There is a particular programme [translation = show] where abused animals and their misfortunes are displayed. The RSPCA [translation = Humane Society?] have been dubbed the 'pet police' by my offspring, all of them. Yes, it’s a joint venture. They discussed it amongst themselves, and when the ‘moment comes’ they all shout ‘send for the pet police.’ Really gladdens a mother’s heart to see her children working with one accord for a common goal.
Additionally, this has given me a new and powerful weapon against the ever growing developmental progress that they keep making when I’m not paying attention. ‘Be nice to cats/ pets/ snails/ living creatures of any kind or I’ll call the pet police!” It’s my new mantra. I use it often, even when it’s not strictly applicable – don’t bite the leg on that plastic bear or I’ll call the pet police!’
‘But it’s a toy, a plastic toy!”
“Don’t argue with me, it’s the principal that counts.”
“What will the pet police do?” I think carefully, as I don’t want to get this the wrong way around and have to pay for a few decades of trauma therapy for them all. “WEll, if you’re mean to animals then the pet police come and take the pets away and give them to someone else who will love them properly.’ I pause for breath and to run a quick inventory in case I have mis-spoken in my longer than usual, completely off the cuff spiel. Three pairs of saucer eyes indicate that I was about right.
I know that I’m over doing a good thing, but it works so well! It’s so effective and get instant positive results. It’s hard to resist. After a few days, I can tell that the magic of the words is beginning to wear off. I retreat muttering to myself about ‘consumer over – use,’ and ‘come to think of it, as the responsible adult I think they'd cart me away first.” I mutter to no-one in particular, although of course that is the phrase that everyone hears and understands all too clearly, despite the speech delays and the auditory processing difficulties. “What do you mean?” she asks, her face a study of incredulity.
“What? What! Oh what? Well, if any of you do anything wrong, you are all under 18, which means that you are not adults, which means that I am responsible if you do something wrong.”
“You mean you'd go to jail,” she gasps. I think hard for a nano second before answering “yes.” I am still in two minds about that answer, which I know will come back to bite me.
When it comes back to bite me within the hour, “go on! Phone them, phone them, I want them to come and take you away,” in joint response to a refusal to do one's share of tidying up, and the prospect of a mother free evening, I am more than ready. “Oh bliss I get to spend the whole night in pet prison with all the lovely cats, dogs, bunnies and guinea pigs and no horrible children.” A little underhand, I know, but the effect is electrifying. “You can't go, we'll be all alone, you have to stay with us!”
“Oh no I don't, I'm of to prison with the animals, I can hardly wait.” A tad cruel but she speaks on behalf of the junior members of the family as a collective.
“You don't know the number!” she sneers, the one that is always emblazoned across the television screen.
“Oh yes I do, it's 408 626 8859.”
“What it's nearly the same as ours!”
“That’s right, we want the local branch not Detroit or Houston!’
“You're making it up, you're faking, you're lying.”
“See you later alligator! Oooh, I wonder if they have any alligators there too?”
“I hope it eats you!”
“Excuse me, I need to use the phone.”
“Oh no you don't!” She rips the cable from the wall.