“NOOO, don’t drop her,” I yelled, steam coming out my ears. “Put her back in her cage THIS MINUTE!”
The boys had been mysteriously quiet upstairs for over an hour, and I thought I’d better check on them. Turns out I was right to be concerned. They were on the top bunk, about to let their new hamster kamikaze over the edge onto the rug below.
(The equivalent of jumping off a 20-storey building, I’d imagine).
For some reason, I’d thought it would be in-bred in my children to be kind to animals. Surely? I mean, I can’t even kill an ant without feeling guilty – that must have rubbed off?
Last week, when the hamster arrived, the boys’ excitement knew no bounds. Here’s a photo. BB likes using my phone to take ‘jail bird’ pictures of her behind bars.
Before you tell me to start saving now for the years of psychotherapy BB’s probably in for, I should add that this was a much-wanted pet.
And, as members of the rodent family go, she’s really very cute, snuffling her way around and propping herself up onto her back legs to sniff the air.
For the first four or five days, the children treated her like royalty, carrying her cage downstairs every day and setting it in the middle of the living area as a centerpiece. They renamed her Hanny-Wanny and made her a selection of toys to swat out of pieces of cardboard and string.
The only time they suddenly weren’t interested in her (and disappeared, in fact) was when it was time to clean out her cage (“We don’t have gloves, mummy!”)
But, then, I realised they might be getting a bit carried away. A never-ending procession of friends were invited over for a meet-and-greet, and they started doing more than just putting her in her exercise ball.
What I’m trying to say is they didn’t flick through a book on Keeping Pets to find some hamster-friendly ideas. They looked on YouTube, where they found video clips of hamster mazes made out of Lego. And then copied what they saw.
DH and I put a stop to the hamster maze game, and thought everything was under control. Until we caught them red-handed on the top bunk, the fun gone way too far, about to send her on a cordless-bungee jump.
We were furious, believe me. I attempted to teach them about empathy, while DH raged: “She’s NOT a cheap Chinese toy. You HAVE to look after her. If anything happens to her, you won’t get another one.”
BB started crying, big fat tears rolling down his cheeks, his lips quivering – at least showing some remorse – and begged us to believe he’d look after her better. “I promise,” he whimpered. “I’m the hamster’s daddy, we won’t do it again.” [his eyes welling up once more]
Then, to our dismay (revealing he thought she would be replaced), whispered: “But won’t she lay an egg soon?”
Quite honestly, I wasn’t expecting any of that. I’m now doing all I can to make sure this hamster isn’t the brightest two weeks of my children’s life.