<<Don't knock it until you try it.
I need to change my “About me” section on this site.
Not the part about my four kids. They are still there.
Not the part about my darling husband, Little Pumpkin Pie (LPP!! My fans say when they see us in public together).
Not the part about how a group of crickets in one places STINK like rotten chicken that you didn’t realize was still in your fridge.
But the part about my son’s Leopard Gecko, Apollo.
Apollo died over the weekend.
And I care. I actually care.
Let me back up – I have always had a love and interest in animals. When I got divorced a few years ago and I moved into my new house I wanted to surprise my oldest son with a new pet. It could be anything, I told him. Kitten, puppy, bunny – you name it! I was giddy about the prospect of a new little fuzzy baby something-something. I patted myself on the back while telling him how lucky he was to have a Mom who would get him a fun new pet! Most Moms aren’t like that, I said.
And I waited anxiously as he took approximately 0.006 seconds to announce his choice.
“A leopard gecko!”
My face fell. Gross.
I tried to tempt him away from the gecko idea. “Are you sure you don’t want a new puppy?” “A cute fuzzy little puppy that you can wrestle with and love on?”
But he’d made the decision and it was final. Disappointed, I agreed that we could get a gross gecko.
And we got this orange and yellow lizard looking thing. It kind of creeped around when it walked and before it attacked a cricket it’s black ringed tail would wiggle a little. We got him a cage, a water dish, a half of a log to sit on, a thermometer and a light heater for him.
That’s all they need, right?
You see, Leopard Geckos tend to have calcium deficiencies. So you have to buy special calcium fortified powder to douse the crickets in before you toss them to their deaths.
Oh yeah and then there are the crickets. You have a special other cage that they have to live in.
Fine. I got them a stupid cage – oh I’m sorry – a cricket habitat. Because they NEED a habitat. I needed them to be as comfortable as possible before getting eaten alive.
And then, said the Pet Smart person, you need to feed the crickets.
“I need to feed the food?” I asked.
The Pet Smart person rolled her eyes and handed me cricket food AND cricket water. You see, crickets drown in regular water. So you have to give it to them in these little jelly blocks. I supposed that buying little cricket life jackets would be expensive, so I relented. Got the stupid cricket water jelly blocks.
$978216074 dollars later – we went home with our new pet.
I did not care for Apollo. You cannot pet him. You cannot throw the ball for him. He does not wag his tail when you come home. He does not snuggle in your lap. He spends his life laying around waiting for calcium fortified crickets to fall from the sky.
For two years – this was all he did.
And then he got sick.
We don’t know for sure why he got sick. We think maybe he ate some of his bedding by accident. Maybe he had a brain tumor. But Apollo wasn’t eating crickets anymore. He was just lying around.
I realized that he was starving to death. I don’t know why. But he was.
The night I discovered him looking so terrible I had to tell my kids. Together we all cried (even me) at the thought of him suffering. At the thought of him giving up on his little lizard life. LPP and I tried in vain to offer him new things to eat. Mealworms. More crickets. Smaller ones. Bigger ones. To no avail.
He was letting his life go. And all we could do was watch.
Yesterday, he finally died. And my oldest son was crushed. His younger brothers were not sure how to handle his tears and came up with all kinds of things they could do to help their oldest brother through this time. One carried a shovel. One got a shoe box. One put a live cricket in with Apollo so he would have a cricket in heaven.
Solemnly, the 6 of us carried his little body in his coffin shoe box out to the field where we would bury him. A neighbor called to us asking, “Are you taking your turtle back to the wild?” We told him that this was a burial. And you know what? That guy totally got it.
We’ve all had to bury something haven’t we.
We laid Apollo to rest and my oldest said a few words, “Apollo you were a good lizard. You were very organized and put your poop in a corner so it wouldn’t get into your food. I will miss you and I know you will be in a better place now.”
We were sad. I was sad. I AM sad. I’m fighting back tears as I write this blog. Apollo wasn’t my first, second, third or even my top ten choice for a pet. He wasn’t fuzzy. His food was high maintenance. He stunk.
But my son and sons loved him. Therefore, I did too.
Rest in peace, Apollo. May you spend your days in lizard heaven chasing crickets doused in the finest of calcium powders. May you enjoy the finest log and heat lamp. And may you always continue to keep your poop out of the way of your meals.
But GAWD I hate crickets.