There is just a certain type of pet you should never keep when you are a child or currently raising children. My first pet was a caterpillar. As you can imagine, that might have just screwed me up a little when it comes to the idea of raising pets 22 years on.
My dad and I were playing in the living room one day when we spied a grubby little wormlike creature on the ground. Seen through my wide innocent eyes, this crawlie thingy was the best thing one could ever find in an afternoon playtime. Dad asked if I fancy watching the caterpillar turn to a butterfly. If you had the same book (pictured above) I had in your childhood, you would think “My very own Hungry Caterpillar”! Oh, the cupcakes you can watch it eat, leaving holes of rampage in its path of feasting.
Of course, I was made to promise to keep it in somewhat of a good shape by not forgetting to feed or look at it occasionally. I forgot if I had given it a name though, but if the memory does come back to me, I shall remember it fondly.
Week One: It laid on the huge cabbage leave inside a cosy* plastic Tupperware. Did not appear to have moved at all. Eat, sleep, eat. Possibly one of the most self indulgent pets ever.
Week Two: Bits of the various leaves were chewed on. Caterpillar remained still whenever my big face approached its home. Got fatter. Shed some weird skin too.
Week Three: Watching it move was like watching paint dry. You never know if it’s even doing it. But obviously, it was doing its exercise in the middle of night when I was asleep. Always at a different spot on the leave the next day. Deprived me of having fun watching it, that fat hairy bastard.
Week Four: From a fat fugly caterpillar, it became a cocoon. I could sit in front of it all day long. I wonder if it ever felt conscious of itself, like getting chills down your back whenever you sense someone looking at you intensely from the back.
The Big Day: As I impatiently ran to see if it had emerged from its cocoon, I saw hints of dark wings behind the leave. Grinning widely, I nudged the leave aside and there it was, in all its winged glory, a dusty looking moth.
Twenty two years on, I still ask myself sometimes infrequently whenever I wake up in the middle of the night to wee. “Why wasn’t it a butterfly?”