Okay, so not seven kids, but six kids and a rodent. I am not a pet person. There, I admitted it. Those who know me will not be surprised. I like my home neat and orderly and odor-free. I may get a dog one day, when I am much older and retired and have loads of time on my hands to take walks and vacuum. For now, when Justin begs to have a dog, I have told him I am capable of keeping a certain number of things alive at any time. That number is six and we are maxed out with kids. He knows that we might revisit the topic one day when a few of the kids have moved out but for now, that is not negotiable.
However, not everyone in the parenting chain got the memo. Landon’s mom gave him a hamster for Christmas. It may also need to be said that I am terrified of rodents. Give me spiders or snakes any day but nothing that’s furry and scurries.
Still, I thought Landon would keep the hamster at his mom’s house. How wrong I was. Starting last night he decided it was his and therefore could travel back and forth with him. I did lay down the law a little and tell my husband the rodent had to stay downstairs and in its cage. That lasted all of 45 minutes. At that point, they brought it upstairs is a Lego car to show me “how cute it is.”
At bedtime, my husband told Landon the nocturnal rodent could not stay in their room as he was likely to make noise and wake up Justin. So, Landon picked up the cage to move it and promptly dropped the cage – displacing all of its contents. At that moment, my husband was unsure who was going to have the bigger meltdown – me, knowing that rodent poop and food and bedding and maybe even hamster itself had fallen out or Landon, who was incredibly concerned about the health of his pet. Landon was crying. I was having a panic attack. We hound the rodent unharmed and resumed normal bedtime routine.
In the middle of the night, my husband’s foot traveled over and touched mine. From a dead sleep, I screamed and sat bolt upright in bed convinced that the critter had gotten out, made its way upstairs, into our room, into our bed and was now gnawing on my foot.
We woke up to the news that the cage door was open and the pet was missing. For nigh on 20 minutes my husband and tearful stepson searched for the hamster, finally finding it in the storage area. (By the way, my husband pointed out that we were lucky it did not find the rat poison placed there. Oh the irony that we buy poison to kill some rodents yet invite others in.)
You might think this is one of those movie endings where the mom comes around to find the joy in the four-legged critter, like the end of “Marley and Me.” It’s not. Don’t wait for that ending. We invited Landon to leave the critter at his mom’s. Yes, it would be great if the children were happy and comfortable, but perhaps not at the expense of my sanity and our marriage. First pet experience as a blended family = failure.