Being a child is easier than ever: you get food, you watch TV and you occasionally have to deal with other children laughing at you because you've got plastic milk bottles substituting for mudguards on your bike (honestly, this was a friend, not me). And that was the 90s. Imagine how easy it is to be a child now, the only thing you have to worry about is not getting more than 10 likes on your latest Instagram post.*
*I don't know if this is true.
In fact, parents recognise how much easier it is for their children than it was for them, so have taken to devious little attempts to even the playing field. One such scheme is to get a child a pet. It will, in theory, create a schedule, teach about sustenance, socialising and very clearly establish the concept of death. The truth is, after two weeks, any child will be livid that they have a pet, if you pick the right one.
Here are the worst five:
1. Russian Dwarf Hamster
Not going to sugarcoat this one: the male hamster will assist in the delivery of the pups, not because he's a good guy but because he wants to impregnate the female as soon as she's emptied. Like a lifeguard throwing kids down the stairs just so he can have another go on the water slide.
I think we can all agree that one of the most terrifying aspects of growing up in a First World country is being in a room with a loose bird. They don't know what's going on, you're terrified it will touch you and time slows down as you realise that you have to accept this is now your life. Until someone strides in, carrying a tea towel and returns the world to normality. The same goes with chip pan fires. I didn't know that tea towels were used to dry dishes until I was 14, I just assumed everyone owned so many of them because they were terrified of multiple loose birds and a chip pan fire breaking out at the same time.
They will all die within weeks of owning them.
4. Stick Insects
See Number 3. They are also the single-most creepy looking bastards that I've ever seen. The only thing this will teach children is that nothing will ever be ok because these things exist. And they reproduce so quickly that they break the second law of thermodynamics.
5. Blue whale
Fact: it is illegal to keep a blue whale in captivity, this is ideal information if you're looking to stitch your child up and make them look like a proper mug, in the eyes of the law.
I spoke to two people, who were children in the past, about the awful time in their lives, when they owned stick insects. Sarah & Lizzie are real life sisters and perform inappropriate sketches, in a bid to win their mother's affection.
What is the ideal pet for a young child to own?
I would get a child a guinea pig, not because we like them, but because they feel like empty cardboard toilet rolls under all that fur. I would then make the child throw the guinea pig in the bin. This would teach them a life lesson about throwing away toilet rolls when they are empty. Cats can be good, but don't put smear butter on it like we did to ours. They don't like that and get scratchy.
Why would any child want to own an insect?
Peer pressure from all the other children owning insects. There is also the rush of power you can feel from setting fire to them with a magnifying glass or pouring boiling water on them and watching them panic. There is also of course some trickery on the parent's part, promoting insects so they don't have to get their child a real animal.
What tricks do stick insects do?
Lay hundreds of eggs and double there kingdom in a matter of days. They can also escape while you're on holiday and then appear around the house for months later.
Why are pets important for teaching children about death?
An important lesson we learnt is bury the dead properly. Our cat was dug up by a fox and its body was strewn across garden.
If you think there's something seriously wrong with Sarah & Lizzie I would encourage you to investigate further, at their upcoming Soho Theatre run of their critically acclaimed sketch show "Fuzzbuzz". February 16th & 17th, TICKETS HERE.
To find out both sides of the stick insect story, have a watch here: