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By Daphne Biener

How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
I do hope that doggie’s for sale.

Ahh, the songs of yesteryear….can’t you just see the darling child, face pressed to the glass of a pet shop window, yearning for a pet to call his own? My dad sang us that 50s tune even as he refused our pleas for a fuzzy friend. Somehow I doubt the innocence of it all holds true in today’s world of over-bred labradoodles and jaded children. If my four-year-old, Acadia, were to sing it, it would sound a little different:

How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
The one with the alfredo sauce
How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
And if I finish, can I have dessert?

Lock up your dogs and hide the kitties, my kid has an unusual hankering.

The pets of my childhood didn’t come when called or curl up at my feet; they floated around and blew bubbles into the anti-allergen atmosphere of my youth. Still, recently I found myself extolling the neon beauty of those fishies’ at bedtime for a tough little audience.

Acadia listened, and as always, had questions. Like, “were they tasty, Mommy?” And, “if they were so small, could you eat a whole handful at once?” I took a breath, and calmly explained that I do not know how they tasted as we (that’s the royal WE) do not eat pets. Apparently, my logic was flawed. And my daughter, unconvinced.

“Grandma had a pet turkey, you know.”

If I had an inkling of where this was headed, I would have nodded, kissed her, and grilled her up a cheese sandwich. But I’ve got a thing for setting records straight, and a crazy idea that I could serve as a formidable match for this child.

“No, honey. Grandma did not have a pet turkey.” Grandma was raised by European immigrants in downtown Boston. They barely recognized the trappings of this weird American holiday. I know for a fact that turkey-raising was not part of their assimilation plan.

“She did have a turkey. She told me so.” Not wanting to contradict but making a silent note to discuss the definition of “real” stories with my mother at a later date, I made another pass at logic.

“I don’t think Grandma had a turkey. Most people who raise turkeys sell them as food. But pets are beloved members of a family. So you see, people cannot eat their pets.”

Not dazzling, but I thought the answer was simple, age-appropriate and to the point.

“Yes they can. Yes they do.”

“No, they can’t. No, they don’t.” (Me. My intellect is dazzling don’t you think?)

“Yes they do. People CAN eat their pets.”

Here is where I learned that her ability for logic far exceeds my own in terms of making sense of our world.


“Yes?” I was nervous. I did not know where this was going, and my unpredictable kid held not just the keys but the only map.

“Mom.” She spoke slowly so I could follow:

You put the pet on the stove.

You cook it.

You eat it.

You simply can’t argue with logic. If I have learned one thing as a parent it’s the importance of letting kids know when they are right. I believe that it’s vital to let them see me acknowledge my mistakes. I know when I’ve been bested. So here I am, officially taking my hat off to you, little one. You are (technically) right.

Puppy parmesan, anyone?

To read Daphne’s sestinas, visit her blog, Sestina Queen.  Never heard of a sestina? Even more reason to check it out. You’ll be impressed.

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