When your kids are old enough to realize that some people own pets i.e. that animals actually live in some people’s homes and they start asking whether they can get a cat or a dog – this is the appropriate Foreign Service lifestyle response:
Step 1: talk up fish: they’re friendly, cool (hello, Nemo!), colorful, don’t eat too much, don’t make too much noise, and don’t need to be walked or have their litter boxes changed
Step 2: after your kids are sold on fish, talk up arts and crafts – the whole nine yards….cardboard boxes, painting, cutting, glueing – don’t forget about those wiggly eyes
Step 3: get messy and creative….
Step 4: embrace the final product
Step 5: name your children as official pet owners
Step 6: lather, rinse, repeat for every type of pet they want to own