Welcome to the fifth installment of a weekly contribution to the site by my husband, Thomas: Chasing Rabbits. In case you missed the first one, why Chasing Rabbits? My husband will be the first to admit that his thought process can be a bit…er…random. He starts in one spot, chases after some rabbits, sometimes all the way down the rabbit hole and back, but it
mostly usually always ends in a great place. But don’t take my word for it…
Our oldest daughter, Annie, loves lizard hunting. She doesn’t want to harm the little guys; she does it for the thrill of the hunt and the fun of watching the lizards scamper along. She loves them so much that one of the first signs she learned in sign language was for lizard, and as soon as she was forming intelligible words she made “lizard” her top priority.
A standard lizard hunting expedition begins with Annie running up to me yelling, “lizard, lizard” while using her right hand to run an L up her left arm (the sign for lizard). So I hand her a flashlight and the hunt is on! We aren’t hunting for traditional lizards, but for house geckos which are nocturnal and usually don’t venture out before bedtime. Occasionally we can find one hiding in a dark room during the day, but most of the time the hunt ends in failure and a cookie.
The event always begins under Annie’s dresser, which is where I release most of the lizards we find. It probably seems strange to most people that we choose not to release the lizards into the wild, but they are house geckos and I refuse to be responsible for making them homeless! Honestly, I really do want them in our house. Not only do they eat bugs, they supply my daughter with hours of excitement, which is plenty reason for me.
Annie sprawls out on the floor pointing the flashlight under the dresser calling, “heeere lizard” and “lizzzard where arrrre you.” After we have searched under the dresser to her satisfaction, we proceed to search the rest of the house one room at a time, each time going back to the dresser just to make sure nobody has come out of hiding. On the special occasion that we do find a lizard, it is the single most joyous occasion of her life. Nothing else even compares. She immediately starts jumping, dancing, spinning, yelling, hugging, running in place and telling us how much she loves lizards.
I supervise lizard playtime to make sure she doesn’t love on it too hard. Gently touching the lizard on the back so he will scamper away onto my carefully placed hand. Every time the lizard makes a movement it is like giving her a little present. She stares in amazement as the lizard bolts up and down my arm. At some point I will persuade the lizard to dismount my hand onto Annie’s leg, which starts her laughing and giggling in a full body shake. Did I mention she loves lizards? By now she has mentioned it at least a dozen times. With a few reminders, she gently touches the lizard on the back, which will cause him to run down her leg onto the carpet. Once there, the journey to the dresser begins.
From here on out she is on her own. No more interference from me. Without daddy keeping it corralled, the lizard embraces his freedom and makes his way towards the dresser as Annie crawls along behind it. She makes a few desperate pleas to the lizard, “nooo, lizard, nooo,” and once he has made it to his home under the dresser, I swoop in to keep her from trying to grab at it.
We can usually milk 15-20 minutes of excitement out of lizard playtime before I tell her the lizard is tired and needs to go home to rest with his mommy. The result is instant sadness, followed by half an hour of explaining that lizards need to rest just like she does. This is why I release the lizards under her dresser. Annie knows that the lizards love her too, and that is why they made their home in her room. This knowledge seems to ease the pain of being parted with her new found friend, so we begin the hunt for a new lizard. Seeing the happiness caused by the hunt will make it worth the tears every time.
I recently made the girls their own lizard catcher licenses. Although they don’t completely understand the concept of a license right now, there will come a day when Game Warden Daddy makes routine stops to check for proper documentation. I won’t stand for people illegally hunting lizards in my house!
Any fun animal/insect/creature fascinations in your house? How do you cultivate that excitement? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments!