Recently we had a family adventure with a new pet. We wanted to recount this story for everyone back home. It also turned out to be a great teaching experience for our daughter. I composed this story to both inform our readers of this event in our lives, as well as teach Meredith some important truths. Hope you enjoy...
The Chameleon Named Jolla
Once upon a time there was a small chameleon. He was no bigger than your pinkie finger. He was very young, and therefore had not yet attained the wisdom that all chameleons are famous for.
One day young chameleon decided that he needed an exciting adventure. Life as a simple lizard was much too boring, and he wanted to see what the wide world had to offer. Even though he had been warned to stay away from any biped creature, for they posed a great danger, he disregarded this warning. It seemed that those who walk with two legs got to have all the fun, what with all the zooming around in their fancy automobiles. So our chameleon decided to join them for an adventure of his own.
One day, he made his way to the big white bakkie (pickup truck). There were several humans placing large, heavy pieces of concrete fence in this truck. Young chameleon thought to himself “I am cold-blooded, and concrete fences are just the ticket to warm me right up every morning.” Being a clever creature, as all chameleons are, he put two and two together and knew that those heavy pieces of fence would one day become an actual fence that he could warm himself on. And he said to himself “How foolish must my parents be to think that humans are dangerous to small creatures. I will show them that I know more than they do.”
Chameleon waited for just the right moment. When no one was looking, and after he had checked that the coast was clear of all birds, rodents, and other reptiles that might make a delicious snack out of such a tasty chameleon morsel, he darted from his home. That is to say, he darted as much as a chameleon can dart, his genus not being renowned for fleetness of foot. Having made it safely to the automobile in question, our friend shimmied on up, using the tire treads for traction. And it turns out that he was just in the nick of time to join the large people in their travel. He felt the engine rumble, a grind of the gears, and then they were off. As they left the gate, he thumbed his nose at all those who had warned him against such close proximity to human-creatures, chameleons being one of the few within the animal kingdom to possess opposable thumbs – at least of a sort.
Chameleon soon learned that while these automobiles move very quickly, for a small lizard the speed is magnified so that things whiz by faster than his independently rotating eyes could focus. All he remembered is that the ride was so bumpy it was all he could do to hang on with his opposable thumb and finger appendage.
Finally, mercifully, the automobile came to a halt. And much to the chameleon’s surprise and delight, he could see in the foreground a concrete fence, the very same fence that he would soon use to sun himself. Lost in his reverie, he barely noticed that the humans were taking the sections of cement from the truck and placing them next to the empty fence posts to be set. Soon they would be moving the very slab upon which he now sat. Quickly, the chameleon decided to make a run for it. Unfortunately, his feet would not move as quickly as his mind, and after moving out from his shelter, he must expose himself to the view of the humans.
Alas, there was a small human present - Two of them in fact. He had been warned about small humans. They, with their insatiable curiosity, were the worst kind of humans to encounter. And with horror he heard the larger of the two squeal in delight as she spotted him moving. With speed greater than he could have imagined she snatched him off his post. “Ouch” he said as she held him tightly between thumb and fingers. He opened his mouth as wide as he could hoping to scare off this young girl – he had heard that they got frightened of creatures from the reptilian division of the animal kingdom more easily than their brothers…but not this girl. This girl, he was to learn her name was Meredith, was different than any other human creature he might encounter. She was neither easily scared, nor repulsed by his scales, beady eyes, or tail. In fact, she was fascinated.
For what seemed like an eternity she held him, carrying him around like the trophy she thought he was. She brought him close to that smaller human, but chameleon only saw him wail and run for the cover of his mother. Chameleon quickly deduced that he didn’t trust his older sister very much – and with good reason in chameleon’s humble opinion. Finally, she was commanded to find a nice receptacle to hold him, and after some searching a small jar was found.
As she placed him in the container, she said, “I will call him Jolla.” Chameleon thought to himself “Oh, great! I’ve been told that once you get a name, you’re in big trouble. That means they’re going to keep you.” Little did chameleon know that he had been bestowed with a name of great honor. You see, this little girl had quite an active imagination. Within her imaginary realm she had two friends, both of whom live in California. Her friends were named Alli and Jolla. “Alli” had already joined the realm of the tangible and real, the name being given to the teddy bear made by Meredith and her aunt Rosina. Now “Jolla” was to join the material world in the form of young chameleon.
Jolla was placed in another automobile, although by this time he was beginning to learn that he should have trusted his elders. His adventure was turning out to be more than he could have bargained for. And it certainly wasn’t as fun and exciting as he had dreamed it would be. With great apprehension he began to evaluate how the events of life had turned against him.
When this car ride concluded, Jolla found himself being transported past a beautiful garden into a nice but modest home. He longed to be free to explore that garden, looking for delicious ants, insects, and beetles upon which he so loved to dine. He knew that given the opportunity, he could disappear into the foliage quicker than you can say “I should have listened to my parents” what with chameleons being the masters of disguise.
After entering the house, Jolla soon found himself grasped again, although this time not quite as tightly. Soon he was placed inside his new home. It smelled oddly of peanut butter. How does a chameleon know what peanut butter smells like? Chameleons are second only in the animal kingdom to the famed owl when it comes to creature intelligence.
Jolla, while not especially liking his new home, decided to make the most of things. But his optimistic attitude began to fade as his hunger grew. He knew that humans liked to eat things such as peanut butter, but were a bit disgusted by his standard fare. So where was a lizard to get a bite to eat? He tummy began to growl.
Eventually, the sun set and Jolla settled in for the night. Early the next morning a shaking of his container awakened him. “What is happening?” he wondered to himself. Soon the lid was opened and there was his nemesis, Meredith beaming down at him. She wanted to hold and play with him ever so much, and since he hadn’t had time to warm himself there was little he could do. Fortunately, Meredith’s mother told her to put the container on a sunny patch of patio so Jolla could enjoy the benefits of South African sunlight. As Jolla began to warm, his mind turned back to another discomfort – his empty belly.
As he was contemplating his predicament, he saw another small container lifted above his own. “What unfortunate creature would now be joining him?” Jolla wondered. He didn’t have to wait long for that mystery to be solved. Immediately 18 tiny roaches tumbled out of this container into his home. “Oh, great” Jolla thought. “Now not only does my home smell of peanut butter, but it is infested with roaches.” If only humans knew that chameleons were just as disgusted by roaches as they were. But Jolla had himself a small chuckle when he thought of these ignorant humans actually spending money to purchase a cockroach, when the same person would also spend money to be rid of them should the need arise. “I’m sure that human will be much chagrined and embarrassed about buying roaches.” And on this point Jolla couldn’t have been more correct.
It took the humans three days to learn that chameleons, at least ones named Jolla, don’t eat roaches, no matter what size they might be. At least they were kind enough to spray him with water twice a day. If he were free Jolla would be drinking every night through the dew falling on him. It was nice that these humans weren’t ignorant enough to try putting water in a dish for him – so they weren’t completely worthless after all.
During those three days, filled with frequent visits and inspections from Meredith – in fact, even little Drake and their friend Liam warmed up to him – Jolla often remembered the words of his parents. Oh, how wise they had been to warn him about humans, and especially to warn him about small humans. Jolla determined that he had learned his lesson. From now on, he would trust that those older and wiser than he knew what they were talking about. He would listen to them and obey, even when he thought they were crazy or mean.
And that would have been that, except after those three days Jolla found himself grasped again and carried out of the house and toward that beautiful garden he had seen at the beginning of his incarceration. He heard Meredith say “Jolla, we love you, and that is why we are letting you go. We want what is best for those we love, not just what we think is best for ourselves.” And soon he was placed on a branch of a beautiful flowering bush. Jolla couldn’t believe his good fortune. It didn’t seem true that he could be free. And on further contemplation, he thought that three days in a peanut butter bucket is a small price to pay to learn such a valuable lesson – the lesson that parents are much smarter than their children and so their children should obey. And with that, Jolla darted away to feast upon the delicious critters living in that garden paradise. At least, he darted away as much as a chameleon can dart.
The Moral of the Story: Children should obey their parents without thinking that they have a better idea.