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Dad Didn't Get It.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Dad Didn't Get It.
Dad didn't get it when Dustin stood with his nose pressed to the pet shop window and announced, "That's him! That's the pet I want!"
"But that's a dog," said Dad. "Dogs are a lot of work. You have to walk a dog, brush a dog, pick up after a dog. Why does a pet have to be a dog? How about something easier to take care of?"
Dustin turned to look at Dad. "I have my reasons," he said. "I want a dog." "Hmm," said Dad. "Let's go inside and see what other pets they have. Maybe you'll see something you like better."
Dustin took a deep breath. Dad just didn't get it. Why was wanting a dog so hard to understand? A little bell tingled as Dad opened the door to the pet shop.
"May I help you?" asked a teenage sales clerk. He had purple hair and a ring through his nose. And it looked like he was wearing a dog collar himself.
Dad's eyes widened and he jumped back a few steps. "Uh...yeah," he said at last. "We'd like to look at some pets."
"Sure thing," said the clerk. "We've got 'em all - snakes, turtles, lizards, cats, dogs...."
"Thanks," said Dad. "We'll just look around." 
The clerk gave Dad and Dustin the thumbs up. Then he disappeared into another section of the shop.
"What should we look at first?" asked Dad.

"Dogs," said Dustin.

Dad frowned. "How about some nice fish?" he asked. He didn't wait for Dustin to answer. He headed for the huge tanks in the back of the shop.
Dustin stood staring at the puppy in the front window. Then he joined Dad at the aquariums. Surely Dad would figure it out soon. Fish weren't any fun.
Dad bent over a fish tank. "Look," he said. "This tank has tiny crabs, and fish you can see right through to their insides! You could have hours of fun just watching these little guys!"
Dustin rolled his eyes. "Dad," he said, "fish are okay pets for old ladies or sick people. But not kids. Kids want something to play with, not just to look at."
Dad backed away from the tank. "Right," he said. Then he moved on till he came to some smaller tanks that were open at the top and not filled with water.
"Look here," said Dad. "Turtles! You can have lots of fun with a turtle."

Dustin folded his arms across his chest. "Oh yeah?" he asked. "How?" "Turtle races," said Dad. "We could get two turtles and make a track and let them race against each other."

That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard of, thought Dustin, but he didn't say that.
Instead he asked, "Don't you remember that story we read together, Dad? The one about the turtle and the rabbit? The turtle didn't really like to race. Sure he won. But it took FOREVER!"
Dad scratched his head. He didn't look happy. "Let's check out the birds."
The bird section was the noisiest part of the pet shop.

"Squawwwwwk!" went a big green parrot from a cage in the corner. "Ahoy, matey! Don't touch! Don't touch!", he screeched.
Dad chuckled. "Wow! You can't say that guy wouldn't be any fun!" Dustin shook his head. "Mom wouldn't let us in the house with a pet as noisy as that," he said.

Dad's smile changed to a frown. "Oh, yeah...Mom," he said, "you're right. Next to the parrot's cage was another cage that seemed to be empty. "What's in here?" asked Dad. "See anything?"

He and Dustin moved closer to the cage. 
"Yeah," said Dustin. "In the bottom. There's a gray bird." Dad saw it, too.
"Looks like a dove," said Dad. "But he's got a huge spot of white feathers on his back. I've never seen a dove like that before."
Dustin studied the bird for a long time. "This is the pet I want," he said at last. Dad looked surprised. "Really?" he asked. "You like this guy, huh?"
"Yeah," said Dustin. "He's perfect. I can teach him tricks and he can learn to sit on my shoulder at night when I do my homework. I'll train him to do all sorts of things!"
Dad seemed relieved. "Let's find the salesclerk."
Dad looked around for the guy with purple hair. He finally found him. The clerk came over and took the dove out of the big cage and put him into a smaller cage that Dad could buy. Then the clerk got a bag of birdseed and suggested some little pebbly stuff to put in the bottom of the cage to keep it clean.
"Nice bird," said the clerk to Dustin. "What are you going to name him?"

Dustin looked at the gray dove with the big spot of white feathers on his back.

"Spot," he said.

"Spot?" asked the clerk. "Are you sure? Sounds like a dog."

"I know," said Dustin. "It's just...I've had that name picked out for months."

Dad looked up from the check he was writing. He was quiet for a few moments, then he said, "I don't get it, Dustin. Are you sure you want this bird, or..."

Dustin looked at the bird with the big white spot. Then he looked at the solid black doggie in the front window.
"You get it, Dad," he said.
"I just want Spot.

And now I've got him."
The End

Copyright  1999
Dad Didn't Get It - story by Suzanne Lieurance
Dad Didn't Get It - illustrations by Dennis Cox


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