Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Boy and His Hamster: A Love Story

It seems like an unavoidable of every parent's existence to undergo negotiations for a pet. I remember as a kid begging and pleading for a pet (including my less-than-successful try for a horse) and not understanding why my parents didn't think having a pet would be the coolest, most fun thing in the whole world. I wanted a cat (not knowing at the time that I was horribly allergic to them) and my brothers wanted a dog, but either one of them would be great in my opinion- and inexplicably, neither one of them sounded even remotely great to my boring parents.

My parents eventually caved and got a dog when my older brother was about 10. And thus I was able to have a complete childhood: complete with muddy paw-prints tracked onto the carpet when it rained, food stolen from the kitchen counters, arguments over whose turn it was to give the dog a bath and perpetual dog hair (none of which seemed the least bit inconvenient at the time-- well, except giving the dog a bath). Our Houdini of a dog would break chains and cables, jump fences, and once even jumped out the window of our car while it was moving. (This wouldn't have been nearly so dramatic if he hadn't been wearing a leash at the time- that was still being held by a child inside the car. Luckily he was quite a fast runner and my mom caught on quickly, but he it still gave his claws quite the quick trim.) I never did understand why my parents weren't so keen on the idea of getting a dog- even after all of the arguments over whose turn it was to feed/water/wash the dog.

Enter being a parent. I knew the pet question had to come up eventually. Somehow this question looks so much different when you are the one in charge of mopping floors --and that occurrence is embarrassingly rare as is, without a canine addition to your bunch of mess-makers. Jared has been begging for a dog since he was barely 5. Dave responded by telling him that he could get a dog when he was 10. Jared wasn't at all discouraged by this answer, despite the fact that he needed to wait for an additional lifespan for the event to occur. Now that he's 8, the ten-year-old deadline seems uncomfortably close... especially with hardwood floors and light carpets and a climate of near-perpetual winter rain. Don't get me wrong, I loved having a dog as a kid. I just don't want to take care of it --and I don't want to take care of my house with a dog and its aftermath in it.

As I saw the deadline looming in the not-too-far distance, I started trying to work a way out of getting a dog. I tried to explain to Jared that this house really isn't a good house for a dog. It would ruin the floors. It would have to go down too many stairs to even get to the backyard. We would really want to have a bigger yard so it had more room to run. (At these objections, Camryn cheerfully replied, "That's OK. We'll just move again!") Apparently, Jared took these considerations seriously because at the end of this summer he hatched a plan. He decided that since this isn't a great house for a dog, we should get a hamster instead- and get it right now. He bugged me about it for a long time, but truthfully, I wasn't that thrilled about having a hamster either. But, the possibility of getting out of having to get a dog was a strongly influencing it in his favor. I finally worked out a compromise that Jared could use his money to buy a hamster if he could prove to me he was responsible by practicing his piano every day. If he continued to practice, I would continue to buy food for the hamster. If not... bye-bye.

To make a long story short, I got piano practice and Jared got a hamster. While Grandma Rogers and Grama Susan were visiting for his baptism, they took him to PetSmart and let him pick out a hamster cage as his birthday present. Since then, we have had a new beloved member of our family: Fredrick. (Fredrick is actually a girl hamster, but Jared wanted a boy name... so he named her Fredrick anyway. I guess we just have a gender-confused rodent.)

I have a hard time forgiving Fredrick for the fact that his.. I mean her... poop looks like mouse turd. I could have told you that Jared was going to sigh and pout every time I told him that the hamster cage needed to be cleaned. I could have predicted that I was not going to love having the faint aroma of hamster droppings near my dining area. But I have to admit, the kids absolutely love the hamster. They built a hamster playland out of Zaks blocks and tissue paper boxes. Jared has been known to give Fredrick rides in Jackson's play shopping cart. They even named their play school "Hamsterdam." Jared made a great effort to point out that he was very magnanimous in wanting a hamster- not just for him, but because the whole family would love it and have a pet-- even me. Jackson is particularly fascinated with the "ster," as he calls it.

So Fredrick is the lucky inhabitant of a glow-in-the-dark neon plastic modular nifty-swifty hamster cage. Except that he/she keeps filling up the hamster wheel (which is a modular piece on the outside of the cage) with bedding and using it for a nest. It was getting to the point that the hamster wasn't getting any exercise, so Jared decided to use his money to buy another hamster wheel extension for the cage -so he could use one wheel as his nest and the other for exercise. So now in my dining area I have a glow-in-the-dark neon plastic modular hamster cage with bright-colored modular plastic tumor-like extensions growing out of it. (I haven't yet taken a picture of the new and improved hamster cage, in all its glory. Did I mention it makes it a heck of a lot harder to clean, too?)

I have been wanting a particular china cabinet/buffet that matched my dining room table for a couple of years now. The store that carried them was discontinuing it this summer, so Dave bought it for me for my birthday. It is really a beautiful piece of furniture: deep mahogany-finished wood with a silky-smooth finish, two glass doors and brushed nickel hardware. I envisioned it as a place for a flower arrangement or a display of fresh fruits and vegetables to round out the dining area. But that was not fated to be... It has now met its calling in life... as the world's most beautiful hamster cage holder.
Random Quotes:

Jared: "Mom, did you know that this shirt I have on is 100% cotton? One-HUN-dred percent of it...."
Jackson: (pointing at the sesame street characters on Adelyn's diapers): Mommo! Mommo! [Elmo]
Jackson: "Where's da phone? Dere it is!"
Me to Jackson: "Do you want to read Clifford?" J: "Uuuuuuuggh" K:"Do you want to read Big Dog, Little Dog?" J:"Uuuuuuuuuugh" K: "Do you want to read "Ox-Cart Man?" J: [big smile]
Me: (during scripture time in 2 Nephi 2) "What would have happened if Adam and Eve hadn't left the Garden of Eden?"
Camryn: "They never would have had kids. And all they would have had to eat was fruit."

1 comment:

Ranell said...

Connie is really looking forward to her baptism day because she hopes she is getting a hamster, too! Well, at least it was a memorable day for Jared, maybe not for the reasons we would have hoped, but he definitely won't ever forget that day! And all the kids really do love that hamster!