Alex-Based Post: Comments Required

Alex asked me: “Why is your blog called NuckolBall?”

“Well, it’s our last name and also the name of a pitch in baseball. I combined them.” I was surprised he didn’t know that.

“Yeah,” he said sadly, “but why does the blog have to be about baseball?”

OH. Alex got the name. He got it completely. I was the one not getting it.

Here’s the deal: Alex doesn’t like baseball that much. Jack and I are nuts about it, and Alex is basically along for the ride. So he’s left out from the blog. Add to that the fact that I just had a guest post on a Yankee beat writer’s blog, and the post was entirely about me and Jack. I completely ignored the fact that Alex was at the game I described. (Note: in many cases, NuckolBall stories bend the shit out of the truth.)

So this post will be entirely about Alex. This post will be rambly, overly-long, and completely Alex-esque. Also, it means that you need to write a comment about how much you like Alex. Feel free to stop reading and do that now. In fact…

The remainder of the post will really only interest:

  • Alex
  • People who love to read about Alex
  • People who love lizards
  • Local people who need chores done

Two weekends ago we went to PetSmart near our house. Alex has saved up an astonishing $102, and we were inquiring about getting a lizard. A very helpful girl walked us through the cost of the cage, food, lizard, etc – and it was clear that we were looking at over $200.

“But what about a frog?” she said.

“Ooh!” said Alex.

So she walked us over to the frog tank. We added up what cage we needed, water treatment, crickets, meal worms – it was awesome. She even let Alex hold one of the frogs. Best off, we were looking at around $80 for everything. Perfect.

“Can we get it now?” Alex asked.

“No way. You’ve got karate in an hour and then basketball after that. We can come back this afternoon.”

Alex was on Cloud 9. He hopped around the basketball court like he hadn’t peed in 2 days, paying no attention to the game. His friend Aiden asked him to come over to play, but Alex barely answered him as he ran for the car. Back to PetSmart we went. New staff people had replaced the girl we spoke to that morning.

“Oh no, that tank isn’t nearly big enough. A frog needs at least a 10 gallon tank.” [Add $15 and now the tank is much harder for Alex to lift and clean himself.]

“Oh no, they eat about 8-10 crickets a day. Plus that cardboard cricket box won’t work for a frog because it’ll get wet.” [Add $3 a week to feed the frog plus $20 for the cricket keeper cage that Shani will not deal well with.]

“Let me just get the paperwork. This type of frog has to be registered in NJ. That’s a ten dollar fee.” [Registration?!?]

“You need gloves to hold it. Human skin is dangerous to the frog and the frog’s skin has an irritant that can create a rash.”

So here I am in this pet store with a kid sooo excited to get this frog and I’m learning:

  • It’s going to cost way more than expected to buy
  • It’s going to cost way more each week to feed the frog
  • I need to buy a “Cricket Keeper” cage to house live crickets, plus food for the crickets – in essence Alex is getting a pet frog AND pet crickets
  • There is no way Alex can possibly clean the cage on his own – which has to be done 2/week
  • Alex will not even be able to TOUCH his pet

After 30 minutes of heart-punching facts about frog ownership, I pull the plug.

“Alex, this isn’t going to work.”

“I’m getting a frog!”

“Alex, it’s not going to work. We’re not going to do this. I’m so sorry, bub.”

“Croaky?” (This was the name he had selected.)

Tears. And not a few tears – lot of tears. Alex proceeds to bawl. He knows I’m right and he is heartbroken. He will not be going home with a new pet. He will not be going to bed that night with his new frog sitting on his dresser.

We got home and watched the Justice League together, cuddling on the couch while Alex recovered. After 3 episodes he seemed to be all right. By that time I had received a text from my friend whose son has a lizard.

Go to Bill’s Wonderland of Pets. They know their stuff.

Fast forward to the next weekend. We find ourselves in a non-chain, locally-owned pet store. A gothy girl with tattoos and black eyeliner helps us out.

“I’d recommend a Max Land gecko.”

Turns out “Max Land” is an actual person who breeds geckos. Goth girl walked us through all the stuff we would need, and then took us over to the tank where she pulled out a gecko and showed Alex how to safely hold it. The thing was crawling all up and down the boy’s arms as he gently handled it.

“See, after you handle him a while they get comfortable. You’re really good with him,” goth-girl told Alex.

Total cost: $135. Which means Alex is short $40 – but he is not to be denied. The boy is saving up. Every day he asks me about doing extra chores. He’s carried wood for me. Done dishes. He cleaned two bathrooms for Shani. He is saving up.

Which leads back to YOU…if you’re local and you’re still reading. If you have a chore for a detail-oriented, diligent 8-year-old, Alex is your guy. I’m not talking about some bullshit thing you give him to do and hand over $10 because he’s cute. This isn’t about fund-raising. I’m talking about an honest-to-God chore that would be worth a few bucks to you. If you have some work, let me know and I’ll get my lizard-lover over to your place stat.

14 thoughts on “Alex-Based Post: Comments Required

  1. Alex, my 11-year-old daughter *loves* her gecko, who she named Leo. If we were local, you could come over and help clean out his cage… You will be a lucky gecko’s human before you know it.

  2. Gee, wintering in Florida, we have geckos all over. They seem to be very hardy since we have one living in the area between the screen and one of the windows in our kitchen. I haven’t opened the window because I don’t want him in the house and I can’t get the screen off from the outside. He’s been there since October and has survived extreme heat and cold (well, cold for Florida). I obviously am not local, but since I get no mail other than bills, etc., and my birthday is February 14, if Alex will make me a nice birthday/Valentine’s drawing, I’ll send a contribution to the fund. If you have a scanner, email is fine. If not, 720 Grand Canal Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34759. Sue

  3. Sam’s girlfriend now lives with us and she has not just a cool snake (I have no idea what kind or even color) but an honest-to-goodness frog who bends her head in delight when you pet her. Julia loves lizards, too. Here’s a happy frog picture:

  4. I have to admit that although Alex’s grandparents have told me all about Alex (and Jack),, I never knew of Alex’s amphian-ish proclivities. Haven’t you guys ever heard of dogs and cats?
    (Rescue dogs are even free……) I have a feeling that Grandma Eileen will have a hard time hugging the new pet, but we do things for our grandchildren that we would never do for our children.

    My friend’s son had newts, pretty repulsive amphibians. In any case, the son is now a father himself and is sticking with a canine.

    Good luck!

  5. Alex, Markus here. I’m an old friend of your Dad’s. You and I have never met, but I feel like I’ve gotten to know you through the blog despite it claiming to be about baseball. We all know it isn’t really about baseball. It’s about you and your amazing family. It’s about how your mom and dad are raising two incredible but very different boys. Believe me, you shine in these stories just as much as your brother does. You remind me quite a bit of my own son, Evan, who is also 8. He is also a creative kid, an avid reader, and a weaver of rubber bands, much like yourself. No doubt he would also be psyched about a gecko.

    Go earn that gecko!

  6. I recently had my office repainted and haven’t hung anything on my walls since. I was wondering if Alex would be willing to draw me a picture of his soon-to-be pet gecko for my office? I am willing to pay Alex $5.00 for my original drawing, assuming it is one of a kind. I don’t live locally, otherwise I’d ask Alex to clean my bathroom…

  7. It seems to me that Alex is very adaptable and has been a good sport about all the baseball stuff!! Hope to meet him someday- come to New Mexico- I have room and boy do we have Lizards!!

  8. Alex, you seem like a very determined kid, good luck earning the money for your be best friend!
    Mike. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, seeing your name and posts always brings me back to Fredonia, and that’s a great thing!

  9. Hi Alex,
    I like your Dad’s blog even though I don’t really like baseball. I especially enjoy reading about you and Jack because I have two sons and your adventures give us really good ideas.
    Anyway, I have an idea to share with you. 2014 is NJ’s 350th anniversary and there are some drawing and writing contests for kids and some of the contests offer cash prizes!! Here’s one of the links – you’ll have to do some research to find the contests that offer prize money.
    Good luck!
    -Mrs. Eyles

  10. I want to echo Markus. Yes, there’s a lot of baseball here, but I’ve gotten to know Alex just as much as Jack through this blog. It has made me think about what a fun and compassionate friend he would be to have. Wish I lived closer so I could have him over for some chores!

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