My darling offspring take after their Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband in an unwavering devotion to inappropriate pets. This goes some far way in explaining why they insist on co-opting virtually any lidded container for their “pet” snails (sustainably harvested from the stones below the front garden water faucet, which has a really slow drip.)
Lefty, in particular, is fascinated with the varieties of snails they find, ranging from “big Mama snails” that approach the size of a respectable pencil eraser (the kind attached to the pencil, not the rectangle ones, or the little pointy sort that she keeps chewing up, thinking they must be some type of gum), to the bitty tiny baby snails not much bigger than a rather small peppercorn. She has noted how nice the Mamas are, letting the babies cuddle and sit on them.
Lefty, as I’ve noted in the past, has been a Mama’s baby, and her little velcro-self has been quite firmly attached to this Mama, as often as she can arrange it. She knows I’m a rather deep sleeper, and has figured out that if she’s careful, she can sneak into our room in the middle of the night, slide herself under the bedspread pulled down at the foot of our bed, and sleep with my legs as a pillow without really disturbing me, or her father.
The other morning, even that closeness was not enough.
She crawled up my legs, squirmed down next to me under the covers, and said, “You are the Mama snail, and I am your baby snail.”
And then she stuck her cold feet on my very warm middle.
“You are a good Mama snail. Baby snails get cold toes. Warm ’em up on the Mama!”
Alrighty, then. One Mama Snail, holding really still; one Baby Snail getting warmed-up toes. As she got cozy and started to drift off, her thumb drifted to its natural position: being firmly sucked upon. She is one thumby girl, from her in-utero days. We have photographic (ultrasonic?) proof. Mama Snail saw a way to get back at Baby Snail.
“Baby Snails have no thumbs. No thumb sucking if you’re going to cuddle with Mama Snail.”
The silence was filled with great, quiet, deep sorrow.
Lefty thinks about things, quite a lot. It took her another day and a half to formulate her response. She greeted me all day with, “Hello, Mama Snail!” and waited for my appropriate salutation of “Hello, my Baby Snail!”, and nothing more on the subject was exchanged until she climbed up into my lap for an afternoon cuddle. She sat, silent, both hands in her lap, for several minutes, then quietly made her position clear:
“Baby Snails have ONE thumb.”
And popped hers in her mouth, and went cheerfully off to sleep.
Rebel against evolution, in very small ways.