Joe The Rabbit was my childhood pet. While rabbits are normal pets, Joe was anything but normal. Joe was trained to go potty in a litter box. He also wasn’t who we thought he was. More on that later. I always wondered why we want pets as children. Is it because we see other kids with pets? Because it’s a right of passage? Or maybe because pets are fun, furry companions? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I both loved and hated Joe.
Joe would bite me and constantly want out of my grip, but at the same time he was a cute, soft, tiny bunny rabbit! Even though my parents were young and couldn’t afford elaborate things, I still had pretty normal things as a kid, like pets and toys. I had plenty of pets with super fun names like Flojo (pronounced Flo-ho), Copenhagen (Copey for short), Trixie, and Joe. There are plenty others, but those are the most unique. I have no idea what my process was when naming my pets, but they were interesting nonetheless.
Feeling like he needed more space, Joe became potty trained so he could live freely outside his cage within our home. Living outside his cage started to become a problem. Not only did Joe like to bite me, he also liked to chew on electrical cords and put holes in our clothes. We already lived in a mobile home park and we didn’t need more of a reason for people to judge us, so holey clothes wasn’t going to fly (I am totally joking, this was never a problem, I just like to make light of the way we lived). Jokes aside, Joe was becoming more of a pest and my parents had to figure out a way for him to live in peace as well as us, so they built him a small enclosure outside in the garden area with chicken wire. They figured he needed to be outdoors and in nature because being inside all day wasn’t fair to him. This too became a problem because Joe started to burrow and started to form tunnels under the shed. My family was concerned about the amount of tunneling Joe had done under the shed, so again, my parents were faced with another decision of what to do.
They were in luck because they told me that some of their friends were moving a few hours away to a place that had plenty of land where Joe could roam around with their pet rabbit. Now I know how this sounds. My parents telling me that they were giving away my pet rabbit to roam free on open land with another rabbit friend sounds like a “your pet died so we are trying to ease the pain” speech, but it really wasn’t. I have written before that my parents told me everything and didn’t keep secrets, and this was one of those times. Joe really was going to a better home and even had a new friend he could play with and be happy. Well, he indeed was extremely happy. Remember at the beginning of this post I said that Joe wasn’t who we thought he was? Well, Joe was in fact Josephine! Not long after leaving our home, Joe became Josephine and a mother all in one day. Josephine gave birth and I know nothing. Apparently Joe was a Josephine all along and got busy with my parents’ friend’s bunny rabbit. That is the story of my pet rabbit, Joe. The end.
This post might come of as kind of sad or depressing, but I promise you, it isn’t meant to be. The message I hope you get from reading this post is that children adapt and learn quickly from their environment. Even though I didn’t have siblings to play with until I was eight years old, I still had an incredibly fun and happy childhood. I didn’t have many friends before the age of five because none of my parents’ friends had kids and I wasn’t in school yet. To pass the time, I would play on my own a lot or with whomever was taking care of me at the moment. While my mom and dad worked, my primary caregivers were aunts, uncles, and grandparents. My parents were so fortunate to have them around because without them, I’m not sure how my parents would have taken care of me. Most of the time I would just hang with the adults and do whatever they were doing. I loved to play dress up in my aunts’ school dance dresses, and I especially loved to wear their high heels around the house, but two of my favorite things happened when I was with both of my grandmothers.
Being in the presence of a grandmother is something special. Both of my grandmothers were and are the best. My Grams is no longer with us, but I am so fortunate to still have my Nana. My grandparents were obviously very young when I was born, so spending time with them was fun. Both grandmas always made sure I had the best, but most of all, they both made sure I was having fun and learning at the same time.
A lot of kids played grocery store when they were growing up, but were they as method actor as I? Probably not. When I would “play” I got super into my role as a grocery store shopper. In my mind, I was a mother out shopping for her family. My Grams was the one who always played “Grocery Store” with me and I would get serious with my shopping. I would take everything out of our pantry and place it on the table and “shop” for it. My Grams would lay down flat on the couch and I would use HER as a conveyor belt! I would scan my items on her belly, she would say “beep” and then I would place my items in a paper bag, pay for my things and walk away. In some way, I guess I had the whole “self-checkout” thing down before it even existed. I was definitely on to something! This is one of my favorite past times because doing this made me happy and it was so simple. My parents didn’t have to pay for a grocery set because I used the real thing. I didn’t have anyone else to play with so I made my own fun, and I learned how to shop on my own. Some people might think this is weird, but a kid has to do what a kid has to do.
Playing at my Nana’s was fun too because I had cousins that would come over and I could play with them and we could watch movies together. Sometimes, when we loved the movie so much, my Nana would let us “rent” the movie from her. Back then, videos were on VHS so there were definitely rules and regulations of how we could “rent” a movie. To teach us responsibility, my Nana made us laminated “rental” cards, just like a Blockbuster membership card. I thought it was so cool to have my own card and she even printed on it “Nana’s Video Rental” or something like that and we had to sign the back just like a library card. One of the rules was that we must rewind the video before returning it, and we had a specific time allotted to rent the video and there would be a late fee for late returns, though she never really charged us. My Nana even had a separate rewind machine that was only used to rewind VHS’s so we had no excuse for it to not be rewound. Having a “rental” agreement was so much fun because I felt like an adult and if you read my last blog post, you know that is was my dream to be a grown up. I felt so incredibly cool that I had my own membership. It was the best. I wish I still had my “rental” card because you best believe that I would still use it!
I think everyone has weird quirks about them and I love quirks. I think they make an individual unique and fun! It was unique things like grocery shopping on my Grams belly and renting videos from my Nana that kept me busy as a child. Another weird and awesome quirk is that my dad used to make me call to order pizza one pizza night and I hated it because I was afraid to talk to a stranger and possibly mess up the order. My dad would quiz me EVERY SINGLE TIME a song came on the radio to make sure I knew that singer’s name and how they died. What I did not know is that all of those little things help me function in my everyday life as an adult. I’m happy that I played grocery store and rented videos because when I got to an age where I started doing those things on my own, I knew what I was doing. It also helped that I got to go to the store with my parents and I got to go to the rental store because I got interaction with other people. Now days we can order almost everything in advance or have it shipped to our door and children and even adults aren’t getting that face to face time with other humans. As far as the random song facts go, they are pretty useful when you’re trying to impress people when they aren’t expecting you to know something. Like I’ve said before, you might not think your children are listening to you, but they are and they will thank you for it later in life.