"Mom, can we get fish?"
"Well . . . Imagine that you guys all lived in a giant tank of water and whenever you got hungry I dumped your meals into the water, and whenever you needed to poop, you did it in the water. After a week or two, how do you think it would smell?"
"Yeah. And then I'd have to clean it all up. That's fish. They stink, and I know who would end up cleaning the fish tank."
"Hmmm. Can we have a dog, then?"
"Dogs poop even more than fish."
"Just a little dog?"
"Little dogs poop even more than big dogs, or at least in more places, and then you walk in it, and get it in the carpet, and they chew on everything."
"Well, can I have a gerbil? They don't poop."
"Gerbils are big mice. They poop."
"Well can I get an animal that stays inside its cage and doesn't poop on the floor?"
"Sounds like daycare kids to me," big brother says.
"Actually, I'm pretty sure I've seen them poop on the floor," says bigger brother. This is true.
"All pets poop," I told him. "And I clean up poop all day. No more pooping organisms, reptile, amphibian or mammal."
"What about spiders?"
"Do they poop? They have spiders at the pet store that only cost sixty dollars, and they're smaller than a quarter." Also true. We also have about a trillion free ones, right in our own backyard. Not to mention the front yard, and the side yard and inside the siding around the front door and . . .
"I don't know if they poop," I tell him. Truthfully, I've never seen spider droppings. "But I'm pretty sure they'd smear when I stepped on them. And let me assure you, I would step on them."
Sigh. I am such a mean mother.