Thomas came into the living room the other day with a terrified expression on his face.
"Mom," he said in a shaky voice. "I caught a lizard and its tail fell off."
I wasn't too concerned until I looked up and realized the lizard and its tale were still in his hands. The bodiless tale wagged frantically in one hand and the lizard, its bottom bright red, finally squirmed loose and jumped onto the couch.
"Thomas,” Mom said in a very disappointed voice. "Get it off the couch, it's still bleeding."
The lizard dashed away, but its tale still remained in Thomas's hands and still wriggled frantically. Thomas looked on the verge of tears.
My Dad and I couldn't stop ourselves from giggling, but Mom gave us that—you know—look. "It isn't funny," she said sternly. "Thomas, go put that in the trash and wash your hands."
Mom wouldn't strike you as the "animal justice" type, but you'd be surprised. She has her moments, and out of everyone in our family she cares the most about animals. Thomas is—well—seven, so he couldn't be gentle to animals even if he wanted to be. I don't like animal cruelty but don't care enough to do anything about it, and frankly I don't think my Dad knows animals exist unless they're going to bite him (or his children). Mom's the only one who isn't too hot on going to bullfights and who won't own a dog because we don't have a yard.
She hates animals, I'm not saying she doesn't. When we had cats Mom refused to hold them or let them touch her clothes; she even wanted to get rid of one at a certain point because she said our house stank (she has a very sensitive nose. She can tell if the house three lots away is freshly painted. She also says cat houses stink, although for the life of me I can't smell a thing.)
Yet at night time when the mug-cat from next door comes over and terrorizes my precious kitten, she's the one who dashes outside, frightens it away and then lets the kitten sit on her lap for a while. She does it to calm down his nerves, and it's the only time she does it.
I love my Mom. People say she's tough and strict, but I don't think so; she often ignores her natural inclination to show mercy and kindness, and I have never met a more longsuffering person.
I hope eventually I'll inherit that trait.