A click was followed by a triumphant, ‘Beat you!’ from a beaming R.
‘So you did,’ I responded, fastening my own seatbelt. ‘So how was your party at school today?’
‘I got cake all over me,’ she announced with glee.
‘Only a year more,’ I said casually, and you’ll be six and can have your own pet. What would you like? A lion, or a tiger?’
‘I would like a cockatiel,’ she said dreamily.
‘The trouble with those is that they don’t go, “Cheep-cheep”…’ I began.
‘… they go, “Expensive-expensive!” instead,’ R giggled. She’s heard that one from me before.
I paused to negotiate a hump. ‘Or a budgie?’ I suggested, even more casually.
‘Oh, yes, yes! I’d like a budgie; a budgie!’ she beamed at me.
‘But then, you’d have to share with your sister but make sure she didn’t harm it; and clean the cage; and make sure there was always seed and water.’
‘I can do that!’ she declared. She noticed we were approaching a group of shops on our route home, and the train of thought made her ask, ‘Can we stop at the pet shop again for a while?’
We do this quite often just to see the pets. Attractions include a whopping great python, a large tarantula, turtles, and a parrot doorman on an outside perch with a ‘Please give me an opportunity to bite you’ expression.
‘OK,’ I agreed, still trying hard to keep up the casual voice, and to hide my grin, and pulled in there. Before we got out, I said, ‘Actually, there is a little budgie up there hoping to be R’s best friend, if you’re sure you could do all those things?’
She stared at me wide-eyed, and I gave a little nod. Her face lit up like a lighthouse. ‘I promise I’ll clean the cage and do the seed and water and …’ – slightly less enthusiasm – ‘… share. I promise!’
We flew rather than walked up the stairs to the bird section, and to a back set of cages where a few dozen young budgies chirped and fussed and flapped and fluttered. ‘These are the ones you can choose from,’ I told her.
Radiant joy didn’t stop her from making a very carefully-considered choice. She narrowed prospects down systematically until finally pointing firmly, ‘I want this darling yellow one with the collar!’
‘Right,’ said I, ‘and now the cage?’
Here, my pre-planning went awry. She took a fancy to a different cage to the one I had decided would be ideal (which was on a generous ‘Special’)’. Although cheaper, hers was not nearly as good.
‘Don’t you like this one?’ I asked, indicating my preference.
‘No; red doesn’t go!’
‘Would you like that bigger type in a different colour?’ the assistant suggested, and took us to a storeroom where a pink version filled both of us with delight, and was very shortly occupied by a budgie.
Then came the irony of choosing a mirror – with a red rim!
After that was the naming. My suggestion of ‘Snackie’ – to go with our cat ‘Mackie’ – was rejected outright. ‘Um … her name is Daisy. Second name Twitterina,’ R decided almost immediately. ‘Daisy Twitterina (Smith-Jones)’ (here, adding on R’s hyphenated surname).
Then she had second thoughts and dithered for a while before coming back firmly in favour of Daisy. The ‘Twitterina’, though, seems since to have migrated to ‘Twitterella’.
Shortly after our return home R proved that she was able to master the rather tricky seed and water trays, and to do everything needed for budgie-maintenance alone and unaided.
Although I would have preferred to have taken it at a gentler pace, by evening, egged on by her mother, R already had Daisy sitting on her shoulder and examining her hair for nesting possibilities. Daisy also wants to egg R on?
© Colonialist May 2013 (WordPress)