Touch of Spice

I'm learning my lesson

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Strawberry Shortcake was one of my favorite characters when I was about five, so I was shocked when perusing the aisles of a toy store and finding shelves and shelves of Strawberry Shortcake accessories.

My nose led me right to them. Everything -- including the movies -- is scented.

And since we celebrated (very belatedly) the girls' birthdays this week, my house is now strawberry scented, too.

I threw down the Care Bears I had carefully selected (when the heck did those come back? Those were also among my favorites many, many years ago) and started grabbing sweet scented play houses, dolls and clothes.

Shopping for children is a hit and miss thing. You may hit on one or two presents, but you miss on the others.

Who would've thought that Nikki's favorite of the day would've been the little glass beads her aunt had glued to the wrapping paper to dress it up? Hours after the party, Nikki was sitting in a box (empty boxes are very popular gifts) and pouring the beads from one cup to another, completely enthralled.

Never mind the little suckers are ground into the carpet every few feet -- they bought long minutes of quiet happiness.

The beads may have cost pennies, but their value was priceless.

I thought I'd struck gold when I happened upon little "just like real pets."

You see, now that we've got grass and a fence, I'm ready for the next logical addition -- a dog.

My husband, on the other hand, is not. He warns me repeatedly that a dog would be pretty hard on my new grass (he's been saving that one up).

So, I got the next best thing. For the cat lover (Katie), was a little black kitten with realistic-looking eyes that purrs, meows, kneads it's claws and slurps when you feed it its bottle. For the dog lover (Nikki), was a little tan puppy that barks, sits up, wags its tail, pants and growls if you pretend to feed it its bone, but pull it away.

I mean if you would add shedding and peeing on the carpet to their list of tricks, they'd be real.

Of course, it's the lack of those traits that makes them so appealing.

Katie carries her kitten around like a baby. Every time it meows (which is A LOT), she pets it (causing it to meow more) and says "poor baby, is OK." It's really cute to see her so maternal.

On the other hand, these "fake" pets are a little unnerving. The cat meows with seemingly no stimulation (and at strange hours of the night) and you have to beat the dog to make it bark.

Those toy pets are proof to me that maybe my husband's right. With a two-year-old and a three-year-old, maybe we're not ready for a puppy.

It was hard enough to get the three-year-old potty trained. I haven't even started on the two-year-old, whose diapers stop the mess from spreading. I can't even imagine what a puppy would do to the house (or rather, in the house).

I've also already had the experience of Katie handing me her kitten and its bottle and leaving me in charge.

Two kids and I'm rocking a battery-powered cat while feeding it from a fake plastic bottle.

Been there, done that, weaned them.

Am so-ooo not ready to do it again.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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