Traumatizing Bunny Tales

March 29, 2019


Traumatizing Bunny Tales

When I was little I was a huge animal lover. Like most kids I wanted every fluffy, furry, soft cuddly creature I could get my hands on and bring it home to be my pet.

Of course, my parents weren't quite as excited about the prospect of a menagerie in our backyard, but it didn't stop my quest. I was persistent and by third grade, I was the proud owner of many animals, including two rabbits.

Pumpkin and Blackberry. Just like the pies.

Pumpkin was first. My friend, Shari, had rabbits and she was giving a few away. I didn't have a rabbit in my collection and was convinced that I needed one. Again, my parents had other ideas and as an adult, I don't blame them.

As a child though, I wasn't giving up. It was summer vacation and I really didn't have much more to do other than come up with reasons why I should be allowed to bring home a rabbit. Eventually, and I don't know why, other than they either really, really loved me or were totally insane, they gave in.

At this point, we already had a cat, who had kittens several weeks after she wandered into our yard, a dog, a parakeet and a tank full of tropical fish. My mother did most of the work, like feeding and cleaning cages and tanks, my father paid for the food and the vet bills.

And me? Well, I got all the snuggles.

Easter Bunny Note Card Garland

So you can see why, even at ten, I was shocked when they told me that not only was I allowed to have a bunny, but they were having Shari's dad build me a custom hutch for $150. That was a lot of money back in 1979, especially to my very frugal Depression Era parents. Heck, it's a lot of money today.

But I didn't ask questions, I was just happy they said yes. Sure, I was grateful, but I was too busy trying to come up with a name for my auburn colored new friend. And besides, I didn't want them to change their minds.

As, I think about it today, I realize that this all took place during the summer when my dad discovered he was sick. I think he knew he might not be around for the long haul and indulging me with that bunny was his way of saying a lot of things he might not get the chance to in the future.

Well, that bunny lived a nice little life in that comfy hutch and I loved her. She played on the grass with my siblings and friends. The cat pawed at her and the dog licked her. I think a few of my Barbies may have even ridden on her. All in all, things were lovely, even if I did think she might be a bit lonely without a few bunny friends.

But you know what happens when you have more than one bunny. So she was flying solo.

Until one day, when I opened the top of the hutch to feed her and discovered the most beautiful black rabbit curled up next to her. What??

Garden Marker Thrift Store Spoons

It was a mystery and the talk of the neighborhood. My brother and I were sure it was some kind of divine intervention or magic fairies. My parents were sure it was someone who needed to get rid of their pet and dumped it on us. Either way, we suddenly had another animal to care for and more importantly, to name.

Since we already had a Pumpkin, someone suggested we name the other one Blackberry and it stuck. I do remember there being some hazy discussion about whether it was wise to keep them together, but once the word multiplication came up, it sounded like homework, and I tuned out.

Easter Bunny Garland Craft

After all, it was summer.

The bunnies cohabited for months and got along very well. We even had a marriage ceremony for them with all of our friends in attendance. So when it was time for my brother and I to go visit our cousins, without our parents or older sisters who wanted to stay home to hang out with their boyfriends, I knew they'd be okay. They had each other to play with and cuddle. Fabulous.

I kissed them both goodbye, hopped in our Country Squire station wagon and headed off to Connecticut for a week of carefree fun.

My aunt brought us back about a week later and I burst through the door. I hugged my mom and sisters, the dog and the cat, and was about to go outside to say hi to my bunnies, when my mom said she wanted to speak to us.

She had a very nonchalant expression when she told us, almost as an aside, that while we were away, our neighbor's niece and nephew came for a visit and they fell in love with our rabbits. They were getting to be a lot of work and winter was coming and it's cold here and these kids lived upstate on a farm with a real barn where the bunnies could be warm. So she gave them away.

Easter Bunny Wooden Sign Craft

Now you would think that I would've been much more upset by this news, but frankly I almost didn't care. I had just lost my dad, I was starting middle school in a few weeks, I had a paper route, a cat, a dog, fish and a bird to take care of...and a mother who just went back to work full time for the first time since I was born.

I guess I was on overload when I shrugged and said, Ok, happy with knowledge that my bunnies would be warm and cozy that winter...living on a farm.

And I kept that idealized vision in my head for years...throughout middle school, high school and even college. Then one Christmas, we were all lingering around the dinner table telling silly animal tales and laughing like crazy when one of my brother in laws said:

Oh man, remember when those dogs ripped into the rabbit cage. That was awful.

As they all recalled the carnage, between babies babbling and silverware clanking, I froze and looked at my mother, who was suddenly not laughing anymore.

Whose bunnies? I asked completely confused and a little sick to my stomach.

Your bunnies, the boys answered, like I was an idiot.

No, not my bunnies. My bunnies went, upstate, to the farm... and even though I said it defiantly, I knew the minute the words came out of my mouth. And I couldn't believe I had fallen for it.

Now, I'm pretty sarcastic and over the years, whenever someone told me that their dog went to the farm, I was the first one to point out the obvious farce and say, ok, sure,"the farm"...

Yet, when it came to my own situation I was so willing to believe the fairytale, no questions asked, and take it with me through my adult years. Crazy. I think I was less stunned about my poor bunnies' awful demise and more upset that I let myself be so gullible.

Metal Bunny Cookie Cutter

My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, put is arm around me, not sure whether he should hug me or tease me like the rest of the table was doing.

My mother just looked at me and shrugged.

What did you want me to say? We'd already had so much sadness...

And she was right, we did. I loved her so much in that moment for trying to protect me.

The story still comes up almost every holiday. My nieces and nephews are adults and most are married or dating, my own kids are adults now, too, bringing new people into our lives all the time. Inevitably, there is someone at the dinner table who hasn't heard the "Kim's Bunnies Went To The Farm" story and I get to recount it.

It's always met with a lot of laughs for the poor little innocent girl who believed.

But that's ok, I don't mind being the butt of the joke, because allows me to share how wonderful my parents were and how much they loved me.

Plus, we all get a chance to laugh a little and remember that sometimes it's ok to believe in fairytales.

Even if it's only for a little while.









54 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Penny. I think about those sweet little fluffy guys every Easter…

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  2. Oh, Penny. Such a lovely story and yet so sad, too. I think everyone can relate to when they no longer were a child. For some they are blessed to only loose their childhood when they are adults. Bless your mom for dealing with this so well. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    My Easter chicks (I was 7 or so)---ended up on our dinner table after being sent to a 'farm'. Only reason I know-was no one could eat the meal set out in front of them, and then we all went to Dairy Queen instead, my Grandpa (who had given me 6 live chickies for Easter, which I lovingly raised in the garage.) ended up treating everyone.

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    1. Oh no, Sandi!! Those sweet chicks...and what a wonderful grandpa. I often say that I'd love to live on a farm, but that is one part of farm life that I don't think I could deal with. However, I would love to have chickens and get fresh eggs every day!

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  3. Oh no about the bunnies. I was so into the story and how you were so great about them going to live on a farm until I learned what going to the farm meant!!!! So sad! Just glad you can look back on the tragedy and be ok with it. We have always had basset hounds and we had two at one time Molly and Libby. They grew from puppies with my two girls. They were the most gentle of creatures and loved all the dogs and cats in the neighborhood. One night I let the two outside in our backyard and began to hear this unbelievable screaming coming from the back yard. I did not know what it was. I knew it was not my two bassets but hurried to let them in to see what on earth was screaming in the back yard. I turned to look at Molly that jumped in the chair in the family room and she had a baby bunny in her mouth. Then I knew the screaming was coming from the mother bunny in the backyard that this big basset hound took one of her babies. I went to get the bunny from her mouth to rescue it and give it back outside to the mommy and as I approached Molly she swallowed the baby bunny whole!!!!!! I was so devastated that my sweet basset hound that would not hurt a fly would swallow a baby bunny whole rather than drop it. I guess animals will always be animals and basset hounds were breed to hunt bunnies. So no matter how sweet they are as household pets they still are animals with instincts. So the dogs probably felt the same way about your bunnies. They did not see them as precious pets but animals to hunt and kill. Just hard to deal with these realities sometimes. I love your writing style Kim and you had me right there with you. Have a good Friday and good weekend my friend.
    Hugs,
    Kris

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    1. I agree, Kris, nature is nature and hard as we try, we can't alway fight it or suppress it. We had two kitties here for years. They were both indoor/ outdoor cats and we adored them, but they were both avid hunters. Bunnies were on the top of Tommy's list. Scarlett, thankfully, had no interest. It was very sad when he would proudly bring one home for us and lay it on the kitchen floor, especially when it was a baby. The kids were always devastated, but we had to explain to them that it was the cat's nature to hunt...hard lesson for everyone.

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  4. AWWW that's so sad. It nearly made me cry. I am glad your mother kept it from you. I wish they wouldn't tease you even after all these years.

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    1. Thank you so much, I'm glad my mom kept it from me at the time, too.

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  5. I'm in tears after reading your story - sad for you losing your dad so young and learning later about the fate of your rabbits. And I'm also reliving animal stories of my own.

    We had a duck named George who hung out with our cat Plumbob and our parents tried to shield us from the fact that George's demise. My sister and I were just talking about him over the weekend and it's been 60 years since he walked into the street.

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    1. Sorry for the tears, Carol! Reminiscing can be tricky business. And I'm sorry to hear about your duck, that must have been so sad...but...how cool is it that you had a duck! I have always wanted a little farm with a duck! I remember a children's book I had when I was little. When I was older I read it to my students, about a boy who found an egg and raised the duck to be his pet. Fun!

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  6. Oh my goodness I don’t know if I should laugh or cry! This is a great story Kim and you’re a great storyteller xo

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    1. Thank Susan! And I think probably a little bit of both...but I err on the side of laughter!

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  7. A beautiful and sad story Kim!! I can almost see you in front of me as a young girl hearing about your bunnies going to a "farm" and I want to hug you! I too had pets that had to be taken away. Sad! Have you seen Watership Down? We just finished watching it last night.

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    1. Angela, that's so funny that you mentioned Watership Down! My kids just brought that up to me the other day. It was one of my favorite books when I was little. I haven't seen the movie. I need to watch.

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  8. That story nearly made me cry, Kim!!! We had a dog who went to a farm one day while we were at school....we got her as a very small puppy in Louisiana when we were traveling around the US the summer after my dad returned from working on the Alaskan Pipeline for 4 years. She was mean when she grew up, she growled and bit us all the time...she used to curl up in the closet on top of my mom's shoes and heaven forbid Mom wanted to wear any of them! I get it...but we still cried like babies.

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    1. Aw, Debbie, that's sad. I remember our cousin's dog did that, too, and they had to say goodbye. It's never easy, is it?

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  9. Oh, Kim, there certainly are sad elements about your story, but I still had to laugh, not about the bunnies going to the farm, but about you and your understanding of the "farm". We had an orange rabbit, named Rusty, when the kids were small, but he went to the real farm, not your version of it. Hubby did buy some frying rabbits to barbecue and served them up on the table and the kids screamed and wouldn't eat them. He thought he was really doing something but the whole meal had to be thrown out..Happy Weekend, and I love all your little bunny projects..xxoJudy

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    1. Judy, I’m glad you giggled. It really was the reason I shared, because the story makes me laugh now, too. It reminds me of more innocent times and that with the passage of time, we can see the wonderful moments that existed along with the not so wonderful ones if we choose to. I’d rather remember the smiles than block the whole incident out…and I don’t think I could eat a rabbit either.

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  10. Oh Kim, I can so sympathize with your mom. This month I had two goats die and I waited as long as I could to tell my all grown up daughter as I knew that she wouldn't say anything but would fret over what I was going to do with them since we had so much snow. Our snow is gone from large parts of our yard including where we have our pet cemetery so hopefully enough frost is gone so that I can bury them this weekend. I saw your title earlier and waited until now to read your story. So sad but what a nice takeaway that you saw the love of your parents thru the sadness. My sister was like you. She brought home baby bunnies and baby birds--any little orphaned creature that she came across.

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    1. Oh Lorri, I don't think I could deal with farm life, as much as I have always dreamed about it. It's so sad. Plus, I never thought about the snow and how hard that would make burying them. I'm sorry that you had to deal with that, loss is never easy, is it, especially when it's the little ones...hugs.

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  11. Yes, sometimes it is ok to believe in fairy tales :)

    A very nice post Kim.

    All the best Jan

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  12. I’m heartbroken for you having to create a new narrative that now becomes a bit of a joke on you. I understand why your mom told you what she did, and I would have done the same. How it must have broken her heart to see the carnage. But my heart goes out to you as that young girl who lost the rabbits and as the one who learned the truth in such a public way. Parenting is hard. She protected you. Myths and fairy tales have their places in our lives. You’d already suffered a very hard reality.

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    1. Thank you, Sally. I have to say that the older I get the more I cherish the memory of it all. My parents were really such amazing people.

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  13. Awww - that's sad, but so sweet at the same time. Your Mom did good and I've glad you were protected from that sorrow until you were older.

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  14. Hello Kim,
    Oh my, you did a fantastic job writing this. You shared this story with me a few weeks ago, I am so happy you wrote it as a blog post. And the way you write about your family, memories and the love with in your family always warms my heart.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Carla

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    1. Carla, your comments are always so encouraging. It's hard to write stories and capture the feelings correctly. I'm glad to hear that I got it right this time. Hugs to you my friend.

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  15. great story with lots of lessons, you made me cry

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    1. Thanks for the visit and the comment, Josie. ❤️

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  16. I'm still waiting for your book to come out! You are such a great writer. Your stories are so entertaining. I'm so sorry you had to learn about your bunnies that way.

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    1. Thank you, Brandi!! You just totally made my night!! ❤️

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  17. Oh, Kim...I'm not laughing at this story at all! It made me cry. How devastating for you when you found out - in a roundabout way - about your bunnies. I had two bunnies when I was a teenager and we lived in KY...mine were in an outside hutch, too. I love Weeble and Spanky. :-) We also had two dogs when we lived in our first house in KY (my grandpa's house) and when we moved to our second house, the dogs were gone all of a sudden. We were told "Grandpa got rid of them". We had a feeling it was something bad, but our innocent child hearts wouldn't let us go there.

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    1. Melanie, so many people have shared similar stories. I suppose there's comfort in that knowledge, that we're not alone, but I feel sad for all of us...

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  18. Dear Kim

    Such a sad, but 'sweet' learning story. As I read about your bunnies going to the farm to be warm and cosy for the winter and you feeling alright with that, I was so happy for you. I had no thoughts on what really happened to them. When you shared the 'real' story, I wanted to give you a big hug. I think we all have those learning stories in our lives. It is what makes us who we are. You were so blessed with loving parents who cared so much for your feelings. Heartwarming for sure. Enjoy your weekend.

    Homespun Hugs ♥ Teri

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    1. Thank you, Teri. That's really what I take away from this story, how much my parents loved me. I have to say, even when the story comes up at gatherings, the laughter is supportive in a way and the memories are comforting. Hugs to you!

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  19. What a perfect way for this story to play out...there is no perfect way for bad things to happen really but seeing the truth through adult eyes is so much better & even sweeter because of the love....than seeing it through a child's eyes when you would not have been able to see it.

    I did not have pets growing up except the occasional stray cat that we were not allowed to touch but we did feed. My son begged for rabbits & we had three over the years....they were all eaten by neighborhood dogs. It is a horrific thing to witness & I'm so glad you were gone when you rabbits went to the farm.

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    1. Oh Jenny, it's such a common story, dogs and bunnies do not mix. And yes, as an adult, and a mom, the story has a completely different meaning. I see if from my own mom's point of view and love her all the more for her actions. Thanks so much for the comment and I'm sorry about your bunnies...

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  20. Kim, I love this story...a memory from your childhood, total innocence tinged with the reality of a parent wanting to protect her child from yet another hurtful memory. I know it was shocking to find out the truth as an adult, but I would do the same thing as your mom. Hope you are having a great weekend! Love and hugs!

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    1. Thanks Benita. The bad memories fade and the wonderful memories of my mom are what sticks out now...

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  21. I can't decide if I want to laugh or cry at this story. Your mother was so brave trying to protect your heart during such a difficult time. I can't imagine. It is beautiful that years later you continue to be surrounded by loving people you can laugh with. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. She was a great lady, Audra and I yes, laughter really does help. I have to laugh at it myself now. It actually helps.

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  22. Sad story because I fell in love with a rabbit in a pet store and bought it. Cleo was so beautiful-white with black kohl around her eyes like Cleopatra. Rabbits train themselves in a litter box. Awesome pets. Unfortunately, she chewed on every electric wire she could find. One day I came home from work and the BF said he had to take it to the vet and it didn't make it. Not true. Your mother was a brave soul to spare you from the details. Not a fan of joking about the bunnies.
    Easter is coming and we can have all the bunnies we want, like the cute ones you made.

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    1. Oh no!! What a terribly sad story. I'm so sorry for your bunny and for you. I like happier bunny tales, as well and I agree, Easter is the perfect time for that! Thanks for sharing with us.

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  23. I'm determined to think of your bunnies running around in the meadow, playing and enjoying the sun. I'm a great believer in alternate reality. And I have to know - who made the adorable bunny garland? All the photos are fantastic, I must say.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. I like you alternate reality, Amalia. Let's go with that! And thanks! I'm glad you like the garland. I have a thing for those banners and that one was so easy!!

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  24. Kim this is such a sweet heartfelt story. Your mother was truly wonderful. We raised and bred bunnies in Greece on the farm for many years. Obviously they were not pets. Towards the end we stopped raising them because it was just too painful for us. You know how fast they breed and we only had a limited amount of space. Plus sometimes they became violent toward each other and they would catch diseases. I am really glad we made the decision to stop.

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    1. She really was a wonderful woman, Mary. I hit the jackpot for sure. Farm life always looks so ideal and pristine, it's been my dream to own one. However, I forget the grim realities. I don't think I could do it. I totally understand why you stopped.

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  25. I would have believed every word of it too. The sweet innocence of childhood...why not. Those poor bunnies...

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    1. I know, Florence...those poor, sweet bunnies...

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  26. Now you're making me wonder about the two big spaniels we had when I was about 8. I remember my mother having to grab hot dogs out of the fridge and run after them when they escaped from their pen. One day I was told they went to a farm!

    This was such a sad story, Kim, but I love your mother for trying to protect you from heartbreak.

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    1. Dewena, you’re not alone. I received a ton of comments and emails from people wondering about their own animals’ trip to “the farm”…I say don’t think about it too much!!

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  27. Oh nooooooo, that's so sad on so many levels Kim and inspiring too. What amazing folks you had. I'm sorry about your Dad and the bunnies and so inspired by how strong your Mom was too. What we won't do to keep our children's hearts happy and hurt free. Thank you very much for sharing such a beautiful story in such a lovely way.

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    1. It's a terrible tale, Michelle, but like you said, I chose to focus on and remember the lovely parts, like my mom's devotion to us. It's definitely the best part of the story.

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