My Daughter Declares She Has Decided What She Will Do In Life And It No Longer Involves A Life Of Crime

For going on a year now my daughter has had the ambition of growing up to be an international jewel thief. Interest in this career path was sparked when she began to research gems, rocks, and minerals. One trip to the hall of gems at the Field Museum in Chicago later……I’m saving for bail not college. She intensely studies security cameras when we are out and about. She shows no hesitation asking skeptical guards about what security systems they have in place. Forget it if an armored vehicle drives past, she insists we follow it. She is very interested in safes and how they work. She asked for rope, wire cutters, and a circular glass cutter for her birthday. She got Legos and chapter books instead.

While we were running errands after swim lessons yesterday I was stunned when she announced, “Mom, I have decided what I am doing with my life. I am going to be a foster mom.”

This is the child who has zero interest in marriage, domesticity, and an even smaller interest in having and raising babies. Not that she has to be married to be a foster mom, I just didn’t think raising a family was something she was interested in. She doesn’t particularly care for babies, she never really asks to hold them nor shows an interest in playing with them. She loves animals and animal babies, but as she recently told me, “Human babies gross me out.” I wasn’t sure she had full understanding of what it is foster parents actually do.

“You know that means you have to raise little kids, right? Unless you only took in teens.” -Me

“What are you talking about? Gross, I’m not raising babies. I’m mean a DOG foster mom. That’s what I am going to be.” – eight year old Amelia

“Oh! A dog foster mom. Well that is a good thing, too. There is a need for foster homes for shelter dogs, breed rescues, puppy homes for therapy and guide dogs….” -Me

“I just don’t know how I will fit in my science.” -Amelia

“Actually, there is a lot of really cool science taking place using dogs. We can look it up online. Dogs can smell when blood sugar is off in a diabetic and warn them before they have an insulin crash, dogs can help people with traumatic stress and really bad dreams, dogs can even smell cancer. There is a lot of research going on with that right now. Maybe you could be a scientist at the Center for Disease Control or a research facility and foster the dogs who help you research how to help people. You could be a scientist and a dog foster mom.” -Me

“Well I’ll be!” -Amelia

This morning at breakfast Amelia seemed upset and was sighing heavily into her bowl of cantaloupe. I asked her what was wrong and she replied, “Now I know that I can be a dog foster mom and scientist, I just cannot figure out when I will fit time in for my work with bats.”

“What do you mean, ‘your work with bats’? What bats? When did this start?” -Me

“Last night. I’m using bioluminescence to capture them and then I study them.” -Amelia

“Uh huh. Did this research start before or after you asked for that shoe box last night? I thought that was for fireflies.” -Me

“Oh, honey.” -Amelia

“Before? Or after? Amelia what will I find if I go upstairs and open that box?” -Me

“Well, if you don’t ever open it then you’ll never find anything.” -Amelia



And now it seems I’ll be transferring the bail savings to pay for a series of rabies shots once I find that damned box.

You know, all this “we need more girls in STEM” rallying…..I’m not sure we’ve fully considered the implications here……and what responsibility we have as parents to society when we raise mad scientists. Rabid mad scientists…..





  1. Suzanne says:

    Please please please, in all seriousness, if she has caught a bat, PLEASE take her for rabies shots. PLEASE. While the whole story is hysterical, as many of your stories are, rabies is no laughing matter. My husbands uncle was the first death in California in over 20 years from rabies, that was almost 14 years ago. By the time humans show symptoms of rabies it is too late.

    • Yes, so there is not just one voice saying this, yes she should get shots if she has actually caught a bat. It is not unheard of that people who were bitten by bats have no knowledge of the bite or visible bite marks, but they do remember being near a bat or handling a bat. For a bat was “catchable,” it is not at its best and is likely ill. I spent many years as a field biologist and every summer at least one person I knew had to get rabies shots after handling a bat. Not fun, but better than rabies. An alterative would be to do a necropsy on the bat, but it used to take too long to actually get the results. That may have changed in the last 10 years.
      Also, the bat in the box is probably seriously pissed off.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thank you so much Laura! Our family member had no marks but a bat had been in the house. And yes, that’s either a dead bat or a pissed bat! Either way, not good!

      • Melissa Atkins Wardy says:

        Laura –
        Thanks for the concern, the boxed bat turned out to be a bat puppet and my little psychotic prankster and I had a little Come To Jesus meeting about it.

        Also? Dear God woman, do NOT encourage this child to perform a necropsy on anything because you and I both know that is going to go down in her room all over the clean rug!

    • Melissa Atkins Wardy says:

      Hi Suzanne –
      I really appreciate your and everyone’s concern and am familiar with the dangers bats present, alive or dead. If she had touched a real bat we would have contacted our doctor. Thankfully, the little shit just enjoyed watching me freak out because she *is* aware of the health dangers from bats and while cleaning her room this evening before her grandmother arrived I found a shoe box…..with a bat puppet in it. But knowing Amelia and her antics, one can never be too sure the rational thing took place.

      I suppose I should be thankful. She spent last week using her little brother as bait to catch a cougar spotted a mile from our house.

      Would anyone like an eight year old for the summer?

      • I am thankful it was fake!! Little booger!! And I’ll take either of them any time!! My son would love them!!

  2. I like this webcomic (rated G-PG) about a female mad scientist:

    It won’t set your mind at ease about mad scientists, but it might make you glad that the bat is all you have to deal with at present. 🙂

  3. Yep… rabies shot, NOW.

  4. Kimberly Herbert says:

    Third voice for rabies series if she touched a bat.

    I’m from Texas, several years ago a student found a dead bat on the playground at a school I worked with through the museum. It was passed around several students, then a teacher, then more students because the teacher didn’t know about the danger.

    They had the body, and it was rabid. Then the next concern was that kids might lie because of the 20 huge shots in your belly urban legend about rabies treatment.

    We have a rule for my niece, nephew, and their 2nd and 3rd cousins. NO catching mammals at all (if they could catch it is either injured or sick), no catching snakes at all (All 4 venomous snakes in Texas are on our farm. I nearly stepped on a cotton mouth April 2), no baby alligators as pets. THey do have a great bone collection.

    • Suzanne says:

      The kids in your family sound AWESOME Kimberly. I remember that story out of Texas as we are now sensitive to rabies. The shots are much less. I believe my husband had to have 2 in the butt, then 7 in the arm?

  5. While it is a cute story, but sometimes fearlessness is not a good thing. Caution should always be a top priority when around wild animals.

    Maybe there’s a wildlife rehabilitation place not to far from you that she can visit. It might be a great way to not only feed her current interest, but also a way to have her learn firsthand proper ways for dealing with wildlife. It might also be good to have her research “safe” vs unsafe wild animals. Bats are definitely on the unsafe list.

Speak Your Mind