Honestly, explaining where babies come from is the easy bit..!

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I think I have most of the attributes that go towards good parenting. I make up fun bedtime stories, know where we keep the plasters, let them win at board games, fake interest in their PokemonGo progress, drive them to school in the mornings, help with the homework and bounce with them on the trampoline. I am hard when I need to, soft when I should be and always, without fail, up for a cuddle. What I am no good at, and have been dreading since their birth, is explaining where babies come from.

I had hoped the subject would come up when their mother was about and I was in the garage, or away, or out of the house. I had managed to avoid the initial preamble quite well, the standard ‘you came from you mummies belly’ had worked for a number of years. But then forces beyond my control started to up the pace of my son’s questioning. It began when he came to me with ‘Lizzie’, his pet lizard, cupped in his hands, a look of worry on his face. ‘Dad’, he said ‘I am worried about her, she’s all squishy and spongy.’ I felt her abdomen and he was right, something wasn’t right at all. We put her onto the table so we could inspect her some more and she immediately flattened her body, arched her head upwards and started lifting her feet one after the other. We both just stared as one by one, little white eggs started popping out. ‘That isn’t poop for sure’ commented my son before charging off to alert the rest of the family that they should all come quickly to see. The eggs survived a night before Lizzy ate them but this had opened up a whole new world of questioning. How had she gotten pregnant? How long had she been pregnant? And where do babies come from exactly? I was lucky in a way as the sexual antics of a reptile are a fair way off from humans, so explaining things felt easy at this point and thanks to Google we all learned things without me having to draw a willy. But I was to be tested just a few weeks later when the rabbit decided to give birth as well. An egg is one thing but a baby rabbit is an altogether tougher subject. Our rabbits spend most days humping each other and how we laugh at their antics, I’d never considered trying to explain why our furry pets jumped on each other’s backs to the children, the pet shop had told us they’d been sterilised so I never gave much concern that their constant attempts would lead anywhere so we always said they were just playing about having some fun. Now we had a problem. Now it looked like I was going to have to draw a willy after all. I hoped the burden of explaining sex would fall to the school and checked the class syllabus in the hope that it was coming up soon. No luck, it wasn’t due until next term and the lady of the house was firm in her belief that on most jobs, most, if not all things and subjects family related, she has the final say. Vagina’s, semen, where things get stuck, who does the sticking and why, would most definitely be my job and mine alone. Reluctantly I got my pencils out, opened my sketch pad and began my introduction.

I will skip the detail, it’s enough to say I felt my class was a success and not as embarrassing as I had thought, although as an illustrator my willy drawings were pretty rubbish. Job done now let’s go hit the trampoline.

So a month or so passes and my son comes rushing into the lounge urging me to come quickly to see what Snouty, our pet rat, was up to. We have two rats, both male and both incredible pets. Friendly, playful and always doing things that make me realise how clever they are. I can spend ages watching them play, watching them eat and enjoy their fearless curiosity as they explore their world in my office. So I was interested to see what was happening to excite my son so much. I wish now I had been somewhere else, anywhere, but not in the house!

We found Snouty sat like a human, his back legs in front, his bottom on the floor, like he was sat in a chair. Very funny position indeed. But shockingly, looking closer it was clear he had his willy in his hand and was giving it right good tugging. I thought explaining the act of sex was hard work and my basic sex education class had wrapped up any further explanations but I was wrong, my mind was now racing about how to explain masturbation. And what is a rat doing bloody well masturbating anyway! Snouty made the whole thing doubly complicated when his dexterity enabled him to reach down and pop his willy into his mouth. Things went further pear shaped as by now my daughter had joined us and, on witnessing this act of self-fellatio, decided mummy should come and see, we should take a photo and tell everyone else we ever meet what we had witnessed because it was for them, the funniest thing they had ever seen. I failed as a parent at that point, I was overcome by inaction, and from nowhere, out popped their devices to video and photograph our rat having a bit of a self indulgence. The rat was totally unconcerned at all the attention and carried on enjoying himself, only stopping when he reached climax. That gave us all pause for thought and for a moment there was complete silence and we all stared, mouths open at what was going on before the children burst into giggles and began asking me what had just happened.

I had managed to dodge questions about a lizard laying eggs, joke away humping rabbits and stumbled a little when the baby rabbit appeared, but now I feared I had a difficult task ahead of me to explain not only a masturbating, willy sucking rat but one that quite happily ejaculates onto his own stomach! Before they had time to bring up the questions I knew were coming, I declared it was time we hit the trampoline and ran off like a madman!

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How to get rid of a pet before it becomes a cherished member of the family.

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I am an animal lover at heart, my whole childhood had me surrounded by all manner of pets. Cute little guinea pigs, chickens, dogs, a ferret, a frog once, goldfish obviously and even a stick insect found its way to my adolescent heart for a couple of months. However, as an adult I tend to enjoy other peoples pets. It makes for an easier life. No having to walk the dog, no animal smell in the house or clothes with hairs dotted all over them, no vet bills, no mess and no tears when it pops its clogs.

But, being an animal lover, my guard went down one day when an abandoned rabbit found its way to our house and the begging, trouser tugging and promises to look after it properly from the children made it through my normally steel exterior and I agreed we would take it in. That day, the family gained a new pet and my life took a change for the worse.

I was never really any good working with wood. My childhood go-karts tended to fall apart, often at speed and my attempts at skateboard ramps never quite had the curve that allowed for a smooth ride. So tasked with making a hutch for our latest family member was fraught with bruised thumbs, splinters and frequent cursing. The result was a slightly wonky but not too bad wooden cage that in fairness, may look a bit odd, but serves its purpose.

It’s gone downhill since then though. The promises given by the children have not been honoured. The messy business of cleaning up has become mine. Feeding and changing its water, that’s my job as well. Putting it out into its run each morning and bringing it back inside each evening. Me. Paying for the vet bills. Me as well.

And I’ve also discovered that rabbits are not the eating machines I guessed they were. Oh no, we got a stern talking to from the vet about our poor dietary regime. How was I to know what food is and is not okay to feed them. Bugs Bunny eats carrots. But real rabbits shouldn’t. Lettuce, sometimes, biscuits, chocolate, flowers past their glossy shine, no, no and nope. A cup of tea in a saucer. Idiot! Holdy on. That means we have to buy rabbit food from a shop. Madness.

Well, I have a lot going on in my life, work being the main proportion of my day and I am finding the rabbit takes up too much of my time. Like I said, I am an animal lover through and through, so in bad weather I let her hang out with me in the office, if she is outside, I pop out every now and again to make sure she is okay, setting up her run each morning is 20 minutes, getting her bedded down for the night is another 20, checking her water supply, food bowl, cleaning the hutch… Honestly, these things are not fire and forget.

So what are the benefits..? As far I can see, none really. The children get to kiss, cuddle and manhandle her each evening so they love this fluffy ball. I get to take care of everything else. Well I have been thinking how best to get shot of her. I need to do this pretty sharpish because I am becoming fond of the thing and if I don’t sort it out soon, I will be unavoidably attached and will be unable to inflict anything other than kisses and cuddles myself, Which brings me to the point. How to get rid of a pet before it becomes a cherished member of the family.

My line of thought could work for you as well, you’d have to adjust things accordingly depending on the size of your pet but I think you will find they are workable. Remember though that all attempts will need to be done whilst the children are at school. That gives you the time to do things properly and saves you from having to explain the blood stained axe, hammer, tiny noose, rifle or concrete block with little feet sticking out of it, or whatever, that you may be seen walking around with. So avoid the weekend, call in sick one day instead.

Contracting a hit man is a bit excessive unless you are filthy rich or have the right ‘connections’ as finding a hit man is pretty tricky, Google doesn’t help nor does Yellow Pages.  Plus, entering the underworld could prove dangerous to you personally. My advice here is to bite the bullet so to speak and prepare to do the dirty work yourself.

I’ve spent a number of hours sitting on the toilet pondering workable methods. I wont go into details here but between you and me, I am rather proud of what I have come up with. On reflection, I couldn’t read all my hand-written notes that well but the gist is that some are messier than others, as you’d expect, but importantly, none of them cost anything apart from my initial idea of attaching a hosepipe from the exhaust into a slightly open window of the car. Fuel is a costly pollutant and nowadays we should be considerate of the environment. A greener, more sustainable alternative is to rig up your bicycle so that the rear wheel is off the ground and it can be pedalled in the garage, fast pedalling for 15 or so minutes with the wheel connected to some form of static generating device could create enough electrical energy to knock out an elephant. And don’t forget, it’s not only reusable, cycling is a good way of keeping fit.

I’ll leave this particular subject at this point and move onto the next thing you will need to consider very carefully. Hiding the evidence.

Obviously throwing it into your neighbours garden won’t work, especially if it is a pet elephant, I’d imagine even a baby one weighs a fair bit and you’d do your back in something rotten. You could however sneak into their garden and bury it under the cover of darkness, although you’d need one of those torches that has a strap so you can put it on your head, it makes digging the hole quicker and easier (elephant owners may find a trolley stolen from the local supermarket helps with transportation, unless it’s wet and muddy, then I would suggest a sledge or something similar). But do remember to check the site during daylight hours, you’d be silly to find out the next morning you’d buried it in the middle of their garden leaving a somewhat conspicuous mound. Do your homework first!

My office shredder isn’t up to the job either and I don’t think it’s worth buying one of those top of the line shredders that can chop up a whole phone book in one go, they are too expensive, even secondhand on e-bay, and should it malfunction, my guess is you wouldn’t be covered under the warranty.

My recommendation, visit your local party shop and buy some balloons filled with helium. I have calculated, based on weight, that 22 party balloons filled with gas should provide enough lift to give a flight time of about 30 minutes, on a windy day that should travel a fair old distance. Buy a few extra balloons for the kids while you’re at it, they love things like that!

Having made good the disposal, the next area that needs to be considered is the touchy subject of explaining things to the children. Now obviously you don’t let them know the truth, come on, that’s heartless! No, you have to let everyone think it was beyond even your super powers to prevent things happening. A suicide note or letter from heaven could work, depending on the age of your children this could be a drawing, a text message or a video posted on their Facebook page. It doesn’t have to be that highly polished, just a letter saying bye bye, I love you, I am much happier here with my friends, blah de blah.

One common ploy is to tell the children it must have escaped. Then you can describe how it has probably befriended others and is, as we speak, probably enjoying the open fields and bountiful food natures larder provides, free of any cage, free of any worry. They like that sort of thing.

Getting Mum to do it is often a better solution. I should mention here that letting ‘mum’ in on your plan may not be such a good idea though, the chances of failure increase proportionately as the number of people involved in the misdemeanour increase. Loose lips and all that. No, ‘mum’ explains the loss of loved ones much better when she herself thinks the loss is genuine. Which is why hiding the evidence is the most critical aspect of the plan. Invest time into this and you’ll never have to worry about being rumbled.

At this point though there is a caveat I should add in. There is a real risk that because the children react so staggeringly bad to the news of their loss that the only consolation, the only way to mend their broken hearts, take their mind off things and bring some sunshine back into the home, will be that mum, without consent or discussion with you beforehand,  will purchase a replacement pet. Which puts you right back to square one and makes a repeat of things highly dubious.

I’m stuffed. From having the perfect plan I have found the flaw is Mummy. Taking her out of the equation is tricky. And it’s only a pet after all. Hold on though, I think I have something…