As a child, it seems I was always begging my mom for pets; a new dog, a cat, a turtle, a pony, a canary, a rabbit. I have always been drawn to animals. Mom gave in on nearly every single one, except the cat concept. My dad was the opposite of a cat lover, so no cats, but I had a revolving menagerie of pets throughout my childhood.
As Easter is approaching, I remember the Easters of my childhood: the colorful cellophane-wrapped basket, the new dress, white gloves, frilly socks, and patent leather shoes. When I see the classified ads and promos for Easter rabbits and baby chicks that surface this time of year, I remember my own rabbit, Snowball.
Snowball was the typical albino rabbit, huge fluffy bunny with pink eyes. I adored him, at first, what ten-year-old girl wouldn't love a bunny of her own? Then he just became another chore for me to do because what can you do with a rabbit? He clawed us every time we picked him up. We were afraid he would hop away if we put him on the lawn. So there he sat, day after day, in his wire cage.
"IT'S SO FLUFFY!"
Fluffy stuff is cute in the movies when it's about an inanimate object you can leave on a shelf. Something that only allows you to touch the ends of its fluffy hairs through the mesh wiring of its hutch is just not as much fun. Feeding a rabbit pellets and water every day is not fun. Cleaning out the hutch is not fun. Trimming rabbit's front teeth is not fun. Are you seeing a theme here?
My mother was unaware of my dying fascination with Snowball, which was unfortunate. During one of our weekends away, my brothers and I went to Dad and Jackie's house. My mother was horrified to discover that somehow the latch had not been secure on the rabbit hutch, and the neighbors dogs had discovered how fun rabbits are to chase. Snowball met with a terrible fate. What's a mother to do?
Trying to spare us from grief and sadness, she called the family who sold us the rabbit to see if a suitable replacement could be found before we returned. Pet rabbits all look alike, right? White fur, pink eyes; identical twins by the generations.
When I came home Sunday night, I trudged downstairs and out of the basement to do my chores. Something was wrong. Snowball huddled in the corner of his hutch, and did not hop over to the feeding dish. Something was wrong. What the heck?
"Mo-om! Something's wrong with Snowball. I can tell."
My mother never could have worked for the CIA. She would never be able be a spy and tell a lie, or lead someone on for the sake of a covert mission. She spilled the beans, and through her tears, told me that she had replaced Snowball so I would not be sad. I shrugged my shoulders.
"I was tired of him anyway. You should've just told me he was gone, Mom. I would've been okay."
Now we were stuck with a rabbit no one even wanted. If Snowball was boring, Snowball II was worse. I'm pretty sure the rabbit family took him back because my memories of being a bunny owner do not go beyond that fateful weekend.
Easter is coming up, folks. Do your kids a favor. Buy them the kind of rabbit that sits still in the Easter basket, and is made of chocolate. Biting off the ears first of the chocolate bunny is still a sweet Easter memory for me. Snowball is the reason I never wanted bunnies for my own children. Live rabbits lose their appeal shortly after the last jelly bean is eaten.
Stick with the chocolate bunny, Mom and Dad; it never disappoints.