Journal of a Living Lady #391
Nancy White Kelly
Charlie, Tori, Micah and Noah are on an early spring break at Disneyworld. By default, and because nobody else volunteered, Buddy and I are the caretakers of their two dogs: Patch and Snickers. It is a full house considering we also have our cat, Sam, Patch, our rowdy dachshund, Red, the roster and his harem, as well as a leopard gecko named Lizzie. To be truthful, Buddy requires more attention that all the animals together. He requires three feedings a day and refuses to eat dog chow or meal worms. That complicates matters.
The gecko was meant to be a surprise gift for Micah, our five-year-old grandson, Micah is high-functioning autistic. This neurological disorder is characterized by many symptoms including obsessiveness. When Micah was a toddler, he was fascinated with little cars. We thought nothing of it until he became highly frustrated if the Hot Wheels were not in perfect alignment. He kept his wheeled treasures grouped by color and size. At first we thought this was cute, a hint of organization skills that we hoped would continue into adulthood.
Micah’s enthrallment with little cars changed to inhabitants of nature. His first interest was dinosaurs which he could name by species and identify as carnivorous or herbivore. Then lizards became his focus.
I bought Micah a picture book of lizards. One wasn’t enough. Eventually he acquired a dozen or more books and reptile magazines. He became an amusing, walking encyclopedia of lizard facts and trivia.
For his birthday, Charlie and Tori bought ecstatic Micah a young bearded dragon that ate tiny crickets. Little Spike grew and grew and grew. It seemed that overnight Spike was longer than Micah’s arm.
One lizard wasn’t enough. Micah did extra chores to earn the money to buy a couple of smaller, less exciting lizards. They ate and pooped, but not much else. When Micah complained to me that the new lizards, actually newts, were quiet and boring, I made a secret trip to the pet store and bought Lizzie. She was a thin and tiny, no longer than my pinkie finger. My plan was to keep her until she was large enough to withstand handling by Micah and younger brother, Noah.
Lizzie first need was a glass cage with a screened top and a special heat lamp. Since she was fragile and would not eat on her own, I hand-fed her. With no role model, it took Lizzie several weeks to figure out that her tongue was an instrument to capture surprised crickets that no longer stayed around to be her playmates.
By winter it was time for Granny to surprise Micah with a friendly, healthy Lizzie. Unfortunately, I had failed to tell Charlie and Tori about my good intentions. Neither was thrilled. Tori had grown quite tired of being Spike’s daily custodian and Charlie was weary of the never-ending need for crickets by the dozen. Spike was now longer than Charlie’s arm.
To my chagrin, Lizzie was rejected. Thus, she is a semi-permanent addition to the Kelly Sr. household, at least until we can find another child who is fascinated with leopard geckos. Who knows? Maybe she could take acting lessons and hawk cheap car insurance?