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New addition fosters responsibility in daughter

August 29, 2008

This week an addition was made to our household.

A very quiet, furry, cuddly critter has wiggled his way into our hearts.

Perhaps I should say he has wiggled his way into our daughter's heart.

She has wanted a rabbit for at least two years. Lately, it seemed getting a rabbit was the only thing on her 9-year-old mind. All summer long, she chased wild ones across the lawn, trying to capture a pet.

I tried to tell her that her catching a wild rabbit was next to impossible, but she kept trying. We would watch and smile at her determination. Each time a rabbit escaped, she would come to us with a plea: "Daddy, Mommy, I want a rabbit, please ...?"

What she really wanted was a docile, soft, fluffy, white pet.

We told her that having a tame rabbit for a pet is a big responsibility. She'd have to feed it, give it water, clean its cage, devote her time and attention to it.

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Was she ready for this responsibility? I wasn't convinced. Apparently my husband was beginning to feel otherwise.

When we visited with friends who have rabbits, our daughter stayed close by the cages all evening, holding the rabbits and talking to them.

It was enough to soften her daddy's heart. Later that night, he asked how I would feel about allowing her to have a rabbit. I could see that he wanted to tell her yes, so I agreed.

My husband carefully explained to our daughter what her responsibilities would be. She listened very closely and assured us she was willing to use her own money to buy what the rabbit needed.

After shopping with her father on Saturday, she came home all excited about the items she purchased. That afternoon she helped her daddy build a platform for the cage near our playhouse.

The next afternoon we picked up the bunny and brought him home. Since then, our daughter has taken her role quite seriously.

She's asked us several times, "Do you think I'm taking good care of my bunny? Am I doing a good job?"

We assure her that she is.

She also started showing improved responsibility in other areas.

I don't have to ask her twice to do a chore. She plans her before-school morning routine without being asked, noting that she will be completely ready before going outside to check on the rabbit.

It has been fun watching her through my kitchen window.

A joy seems to spring from each step she takes as she goes about her business, spending lots of time taking care of the rabbit's, er, business.

She thought we should vote on the rabbit's name, casting ballots into a hat, but we decided an open discussion would do.

Her father suggested Glitter, so the rabbit would feel at home with our dog, Sparkles.

We tossed around Buttercup, Flower, Thumper, Bam-Bam and others, but our daughter finally decided on a name that would fit both the rabbit's appearance and touch.

Snowball "Snowy" Cuddles is a big ball of gray-streaked white fur with floppy ears. We call Snowball a he, but he could be a she. At 7 weeks old, it's too early to tell, at least for us, so my daughter decided on a name that would work for a male or a female.

Sparkles is quite curious about Snowball. Our dog knows something is in the hanging cage. In a way, I feel sorry for her because her "lone-pet" status is gone. But I'm sure Sparkles will adjust, as we all have, to our new friend.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to lisap@herald-mail.com.

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