My big boys are trying to rope me into getting them a hamster by being so inventive in building their own hamster house. For the love of Pete, I need a hamster in my house like I need a hole in my head. We already have three boys (if I stopped there, that would be enough), a dog, and two chickens.
But. Do you know what I need less than a hamster or a hole in my head? That would be one of my children going off to college that is still sucking his thumb. We've tried the thumb guards, the incentives, the asking him, "Would you rather have a car or braces? It's going to be kind of embarrassing when you go to pick up a girl for a date on your scooter." I'm a little embarrassed to say, I even looked up people with really bad overbites on the computer and showed him the pictures. Nothing has worked. I think he's just been secretly holding out for something really good to give it up. That something really good is apparently a hamster. Crap.
I know. I know. I hear you saying, "Oh, just let them get a hamster. It will teach them responsibility and animal husbandry and such. They'll take really good care of it."
Well, here are 5 reasons I need a hamster like a hole in my head.
1. It will escape and die in my kids’ closet. I had at least three hamsters, my favorite being "Willy" whom we nicknamed Houdini because we could not keep him in his cage. My brother had a dwarf hamster, Red Hot Chili Pepper. I'm not making that up. (It was the nineties.) Red Hot Chili Pepper also escaped frequently and one time WE NEVER FOUND HIM. THIS is the current state of the big boys' closet. If this hamster gets out, he will die in this closet.
2. It will die eventually. Speaking of dying, even if he doesn't die in this closet, he WILL DIE eventually. Ugh. Then, the kids we will be so sad and we will have to bury it in the backyard with one of our chickens, Amy (#1). Someday, we are actually going to move to a house with enough bedrooms for everyone and the kids have already requested that we DIG UP Amy #1 so we can bury her in the new backyard. THAT will make a wonderful impression on our new neighbors. "Hi. Don't mind us. We're just moving in next door (with our pet cemetery)."
You see, the boys tend to get VERY attached to animals. About a month ago, the boys were all worked up about wanting a pet turtle. They didn't have any money, so they decided they were going to catch a pet turtle. Not figuring they would actually ever catch a red eared slider from our neighborhood duck pond, I dutifully trudged up to the pond with the boys and their turtle catching contraptions for a week.
Then, the unimaginable happened. They actually caught a little baby red eared slider. Crap. Another opportunity for me to be the bad guy, again. I reluctantly agreed to let the boys bring the turtle home and observe it until the next morning, but then we had to TAKE IT BACK. "His mommy will be sad and looking for him."
So, the boys named him "Rocky," they observed him, they Googled what turtles eat, where they live, etc. It was a wonderful learning experience. The next morning, when we plodded back to the park to set him free, we had another wonderful learning experience... about the food chain. We all eased down to the edge of the pond. Big Kid slowly released him into the water. Rocky took off. He was swimming with all of his little turtle might.
The feelings of satisfaction that Rocky was back where he needed to be were quickly extinguished when he as about six feet away and a duck attacked him. Rocky, the turtle that we had for 14 HOURS still holds a place of honor in the boys' room.
3. Sometimes, pets are mean. I had a host of small pets when I was growing up. (Bless my parents’ hearts.) "Poke-a-nose" the hedgehog was also a really good pet until she wasn't. One weekend, we brought my science teacher's male hedgehog over for a visit (if you know what I mean). We didn't SEE anything happen. However, some time later, while we were out of town and a friend was watching her for me, (surprise, surprise), she gave birth to three little hedge hoglets.
When I say she was nice until she wasn't, I mean she was nice until she had babies. Then, she was mean as a snake (I can relate sometimes).
4. I will be the one stuck cleaning the cage. Oh, sure, the boys wholeheartedly promise they will take care of it, feed it, play with it, and clean the cage. We all know what will happen, though. They will put off the cleaning (and put it off and put it off) until it will smell so bad that I will break down and clean it for them. Did I mention the three boys, the dog, and the two chickens? I have enough poop to deal with already.
5. It will probably bite one of the kids. A few weeks ago, Big Kid asked to go to the pet store “just to hold a hamster.” I, begrudgingly, agreed. It could not have been more awesome… I mean, awful.
We happened to luck out with the store clerk that was obviously afraid of the small pets. It took him no less than five minutes to wrangle a hamster up. One of the hamsters hissed at him. Did you know hamsters could hiss? Another one bit the employee.
My son quickly touched one hamster with one finger. He was afraid for his actual life after that experience. Leaving the hamster cages, he asked, “Do you think I can get a Betta fish instead?” Absolutely. Score one for the good guys.
Unfortunately, Tails the Betta fish did not squelch their hamster hunger for long. They are back on the hamster bandwagon, but I am going to make them earn it.
I always tell the boys that there is a really good place to go when they need money. That magical place would be "to work." So, I have devised a scheme that by both the big boys doing their daily chores and the one big boy keeping his thumb out of his mouth, they can earn $10 per week.
We will then schlep on down to Petco so they can spend their new found riches on hamster gear. I figure it will take them about two months to acquire all of the necessary hamster paraphernalia. (I'm kind of quietly hoping that he will slip up and we can prolong the imminent hamster doom.)
I suppose there are worse things than having a hamster. I'll probably even like the stinking thing (I'm kind of a sucker for animals), just as long as they don't name it something stupid like "Red Hot Chili Pepper." Who knows, I might even let it run around in it's little hamster ball while the kids are at school.
What about your kids? Do they have a pet or want a pet? Do they actually take care of it like they PROMISED they would? Did you have pets growing up? Any unusual names? Thank you so much for reading my hamster rant! I look forward to hearing from you!
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