The putrid smell of animal crap wafted up my nose as I tried not to gag.
“That one!” K pointed at the doomed hamster naively pressing his little rodent paws up against the glass.
I know, bad idea. But Little Boy K was so enthralled with the pet store rodents and I had lofty goals of teaching him responsibility and a deplorable habit of indulging my children.
At least it was a hamster. He originally wanted a rat but my skin prickled when I looked at their beady little peppercorn eyes and their thick pink tails and led him toward the hamster cages. We left the pet store significantly poorer but with a car full of hamster loot and big dreams of a new BFF for Little Boy K.
“What are we going to name him?” I asked my ubercreative child.
“Alrighty, sounds good, honey, Rat it is.”
Predictably, Rat became my responsibility. Did I really expect a preschooler to scrub hamster crap off a plastic cage?
But he did learn several valuable lessons such as:
1. Animals need food. And water. Every day.
2. Don’t squeeze them.
3. They bite.
4. They run from you. Under the bed, where Mommy has to capture him all grumpy-faced and yelly.
5. What nocturnal means and what happens when you express your nocturnalness with a squeaky hamster wheel.
I should have prepared K for Rat’s inevitable trip to Hamster Heaven. The bad thing about picking out a “cute” hamster is that he is difficult to replace unnoticed.
This time, I asked the rodent guy to show us a type of hamster that they always have in stock and that looks more generic. It appears I was not the first person to make such a request and we were directed to the Robohamster cage.
“What are we going to name him?” I asked, this time, hoping for something with a little more flair.
“But we’ve already had a Rat. Shouldn’t we name him something else?”
Coming home from a trip last summer, my spidey sense was tingling so I walked down the hall to check on Rat 2. Sure enough, he was curled in a little ball inside of his house, stiff as could be.
I put him in a ziplock bag and we buried him in the flowerbed/animal graveyard in the front yard.
There would be no Rat 3. The lack of additional responsibilities for Rat crap cleanup and the stenchless bedroom were too good to pass up, especially with the new little person in our home, so I have remained firm.
Last night when I returned home, K met me at the back door, the tear/freckle combo was working its magic again, “I miss Rat.”
Swinging Baby S over my hip, I walked them both inside the house.
“Can we get another Rat?”
“No, honey. no more Rats. We got you a baby brother instead.”