Saturday, August 28, 2010

Well, this is a good start to the weekend.

This weekend is shaping up to be an doozie. First though, I have to back up a bit.

So I got Ava a hamster for her birthday. She'd been begging and begging and begging for a pet, and because I wanted to surprise her on her birthday, I caved. I went to the pet store while John was visiting with them and I picked out two adorable little guys. 

Why two? Well, because I knew what would happen if I came home with one. Jace would scream and cry and shrivel up on the floor because it wasn't fair, and then he would ask for a hamster for his birthday, and it would be too late to socialize them so that they could share a cage and I'd be stuck cleaning out two cages of one. So I just bought two to avoid conflict. That's one of my official parenting tenets: Avoidance. 

Ava was over the moon when she saw them, and so was Jace. They immediately named the hamsters Marshmallow and Brownie. I thought maybe they were graduating into cool name territory at this age, like Nicodemus or Spike, but I was mistaken. Apparently we are still in the thick of naming things after food. I was a little disheartened, to tell you the truth, but Marshmallow and Brownie were the names and the kids were adamant that they were not going to change them. 

These two hamsters are fast. And little. And at night, they run on their wheel like it's their job, like they're punching teeny tiny hamster friendly time cards. Run run run, jump off the wheel and do some laps, visit a couple tubes, and back to the wheel. I'm fairly certain they wore a track around their cage the first night. But they're funny to watch and adorable...Seth will sit for an hour just watching them and screaming well organized gibberish as he points at them and looks back at me. I'm beginning to think he doesnt have any speech issues...the issue is more that he's speaking a different language than the rest of us, and he speaks it fluently. One of these days I fully expect him to pack his bags, fake a passport, and leave me a note saying that he loves me but he needs to find people that can understand him when he asks for a piece of toast.

Wow, I really digressed there. Anyway, the hamsters have been a hit at our house. So much so that yesterday, Seth broke out of his crib to find them, somehow knocked off the entire front rail and hopped down, then sauntered out of his bedroom completely naked like he was the King of the World (Or the Emperor with new clothes, I guess). I almost had a heart attack, but he just gibbered something at me and pulled a chair up so that he could climb up and see the hamsters better. 

I knew in that moment that my life was over, of course. As I studied the wreckage from his crib, all I could think was that I was not ready for him to be in a bed. Not ready at all. So I set up our old pack n play for him and hoped it would contain him for the night. Then I put the older kids to bed and crossed my fingers, hoping I'd make it through the night without an escapee. 

When I woke up this morning, I thought I'd been successful. Seth was still snoozing in the pack n play, curled up and oblivious to the world. Then Ava came tearing out of her room, crying. 

"Brownie's gone!" She wailed over and over. 

Now I knew there was no way that hamster was gone. He had probably just burrowed under the bedding or something. My kids knew better than to open the cage door, and they always listen to me. 

I know you're laughing now, and that's okay, because I'm an idiot for trusting a newly 6 year old and almost 5 year old's promises. After examining the cage, it turned out that Brownie was, in fact, MIA. After ten minutes of listening to Ava hiccup out a word or two between sobs, I finally got the story. Apparently one of the toys in the cage had fallen over, and Ava had opened the door to reach in and fix it. The door must not have been latched afterwards, though, because even though it was on top of the cage, a hamster escape artist had obviously taken advantage of it. 

I thought things were hopeless, to tell you the truth. In fact, I was pretty positive that the only way we'd find this two inch long, extremely fast hamster was when his body began to decompose after he died from a cerebral hemorrhage from the flying leap he took off the table his cage was housed on. I tried to prepare the kids, but asked them to make sure their room was clean so that he wouldn't have as many places to hide. 

A few minutes later, I grabbed some cleaning supplies myself and went to wipe down the bathroom counters, which my kids smear with toothpaste each and every night. As I cleaned, I thought about the futility of finding a tiny hamster in a comparatively huge space, and I felt kind of bad for the little guy. 

Just then, I spotted our toilet plunger laying sideways on the floor, and I paused. It's one of the plastic ones, completely hollow with an accordion shaped bell at the end, and it suddenly struck me as a perfect hamster hiding place. Not even daring to believe he was in there, I tipped it back up....and a small, furry hamster rolled right out and stared up at me, dazed. 

"Ava!" I yelled as I pounced and grabbed him before he could run off, "You better thank me!"

I examined him as best I could, and old Brownie seems to be okay. I mean, he's probably permanently traumatized emotionally, but aren't we all in some way or another? I'm not sure how many lives hamsters have, but he's definitely used up one of them. I replaced him in the cage, checked the door, and he and Marshmallow greeted each other joyfully. 

Of course, right after we closed the case of the hamster caper Seth managed to climb out of the pack n play, sans clothes once again, and peed all over the floor. 

Yes, this is my life.

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