Meet Critter the bearded dragon, newest member of my household.
Emma saw bearded dragon babies when we were in Tricities in January, and fell in love. They are pretty darn cute (especially the babies), but I nixed the idea of an impulse-buy pet. I told her that I wasn't saying no, but I wasn't saying yes either.
I thought about it for a while, and told her that she needed to research how to take care of a bearded dragon and keep it healthy, write a report about her research, and present it to me. She also needed to earn half the required money herself, since these little suckers and all their paraphernalia are expensive. Dipping into her savings account was not allowed. If she could earn $150+ and do the research, we would talk.
My secret expectation was that she would lose interest, or it would take her until next fall to earn the money and she would give up, or she would flit off onto another tangent, and I would not have to buy a lizard.
She was very dedicated and motivated. She finished her report in less than a month, having apparently pestered the school and town librarians mercilessly to get all available books on bearded dragons, as well as using the school library computers to do research during her free library time and extra lunch-period time (hello, Hermione...). She wrote the report on her Google Docs at school, and actually got extra credit points in science for it. She presented it to me in February, and I was impressed.
She earned the required money by the end of March, with even a little extra cushion so she can buy the food and pay someone to come take care of it if we go out of town.
All well and good, I said, but your room is a mess, you have no place to put this creature, and unless you clean it up completely, there will be no dragon. Again, the expectation that this would not be done and I would not have to buy a bearded dragon.
Again, with the underestimation of her determination. She wrote herself a schedule, commandeered the kitchen timer, and worked really hard for a whole week to get her room and other Emma-mess areas of the house taken care of.
All my stated criteria being met, I had no choice but to follow through. Let this be a lesson to all parents out there. DO NOT PAINT YOURSELF INTO A CORNER.
I complain, but it's mostly tongue-in-cheek. This is a really cute little guy. Or girl. We're not sure which yet.