I do adore Bella’s teacher and I don’t care if she knows it. Will I ever forget the necklace she was wearing the first day of school, a smallish tarantula suspended in a prism of acrylic? Unlikely. Or the fact that I rarely see her without Peaches (the parakeet) attached to her shoulder, and not with safety pins, because Peaches is ALIVE? Not too many weeks ago I wandered into class to fetch Bella and noticed that Peaches had embellished her owner’s cardigan with an enormous dribble of bird poop. “Looks like she got you, there,” I said, in that it seemed rude not to acknowledge the fact that my child’s teacher had been, you know, shat upon. “Oh, Peaches does that all the time!” she said. And she was about a thousand times merrier than I would be under similar circumstances, because after one single incident of the sort, I’d have recycled the bird and We Shall Never Speak of This Again. So my horror was compounded by infinity when I dropped Bella off this morning and learned that Peaches had eaten half a green crayon and was suffering intestinal distress. “I tell you, it’s been like a green waterfall over there”–motioning toward the children’s bookshelves where Peaches was doubled over in (I guess) agony–”but I keep wiping the walls down.” Probably if I weren’t so detached from Nature this wouldn’t have horrified me but as it is I was unable to stop myself from googling “death by impetigo” when I got home, and now I really wish I hadn’t.