As parents, we want to delay talking to our children about death as long as possible. But avoiding the topic may unnecessarily shelter your child and do more harm than good. You don’t need to invest in a high-maintenance dog to teach your children crucial lessons about life and death. Take a look at some of these cheap pets whose swift deaths can harden your child into a pillar of jaded pessimism. These animals will break your little angel’s heart—but won’t break the bank!
A Cute Little Mouse
These adorable rodents will provide your family with a swift and affordable reminder of mortality. From the second you purchase it for $6.99, to the makeshift backyard burial you throw together only nine months later, you’re sure to teach your tots about the cruel ways of the world, and the unmistakable odor of decomposing flesh.
The going rate for a parakeet is shockingly low, as is the satisfaction rate for these tiny, useless birds. After five years of screeching under a towel in your kitchen, your bird will kick the bucket and effectively crush your child’s dreams of teaching it to say, “hello.” How else can you teach your child that there are no promises in life for under $20?
An Old Ferret
You can find an old ferret for a refreshingly low price, and it’s guaranteed to die less than two years later. And because ferrets are illegal in your state, your child will now know the bitter reality of mourning quietly and secretly.
A bunny can be purchased from your local pet store for as low as 50 bucks, and it’s no coincidence: These cuties only last for nine years, tops. Bunnies are fragile animals known for their swift illnesses that lead to death within just a few days. If it gets a chill or eats the wrong kind of hay, you’ll have the perfect chance to show your little one a sudden yet peaceful death, right before you drop the thing off at the vet and let them take care of it on the way to soccer practice.
Watching your hamster spin on its endless wheel day in and day out will remind you of our universally constant struggle for productivity until we eventually die alone. Luckily, you’ll only have to witness this bleak scene for a year or two until it croaks. Only $15 and your kids get to learn all about Mommy’s relationship to her own inevitable mortality when you mutter, “It’s over. I envy you, Snowball.”
Don’t be fooled: A healthy goldfish raised in optimal conditions can last for decades. So make sure you get yours from a second-rate carnival at the end of a long, hot day, and take it home in a plastic bag. That way, you only have to shell out a few bucks, and it’ll be dead by the time you get home. Talk about efficiency in learning the lesson that there are no guarantees in life!
With just a few dollars, a small corner of the living room, and a shoebox coffin, your progeny will be well informed about the role death plays in our world. Plus, if the thing dies right away, you can always bring it back for a refund. Put that toward the college fund!