At my kid's recent preschool graduation, she climbed on a box, accepted a ribbon-wrapped diploma and fielded a hard question from her pre-K teacher: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Pet store owner," she replied.
After the ceremony, I told her that it was OK with me if she owned a pet store, as long as it's Petco. She's 5 and, as usual, she had no idea what I was talking about.
Good age, as they say.
I want to support my kid's dreams. But I also want her to earn enough money to support me, just in case this newspaper thing goes the way of the newspaper.
Nevertheless, my wife and I indulge the kid's love of animals. We have a couple of cats who don't appreciate that we rescued them from the shelter. Our house is literally the rest stop on the way to betta fish heaven.
We go to pet stores to gaze at the bunnies, mice, parakeets and, when looking at photos of Corona del Mar's store, the angry demonstrators outside.
The stuffed-animal-to-people ratio in our household is something like 168 to 3. My daughter cares for each of them in a toy animal hospital.
To this point — and there is one — we took a trip last weekend to the O.C. Fair and headed straight to Centennial Farm.
The kid ignored the larger livestock at first, instead rushing to the too-cute-to-resist chicks. A fair worker allowed her to use two fingers to stroke golden feathers softer than middle age. This is why we're able to sigh.
We visited hog heaven — a place where people wearing Angels caps looked at hogs.
Then it was off to see the peacocks. The kid wanted to know why the males are so much prettier than the females. I told her that it's so they could find girlfriends, but I was never too strong in science.
We patted cows so big they didn't notice. We looked at goats who checked to see if we had food, then averted their gazes.
We found out that you can't wake a sleeping llama. We played find the queen in the beehive exhibit — an underrated experience.
We left the farm and headed to the pig races. Our pig lost, but I am pretty sure the kid thinks he won.
We felt small beneath the Clydesdales and a little creeped out by the animatronic insects.
And my wife and I discovered why they invented Purell, and that we're willing to sanitize our kid's hands but not her dreams.
Write me in 20 years. I'll get you a good deal on a betta fish.
JOHN CANALIS is editor of the Daily Pilot, Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and firstname.lastname@example.org.