Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gift that keeps... breathing

I celebrated my 4th anniversary of motherhood, of being single and of single-parenting -- all of which seem to be so thoroughly intertwined that they don't work individually.

A well-meaning "teacher" at Chi's daycare was excited about her birthday (though she said "Why didn't you tell me it was her birthday" as though it were some sort of surprising one-time event).  She said she'd run out and get her something to commemorate the occasion.

Never in my wildest thoughts did I think what she'd choose would be alive.

The next day, I was ushered into the classroom to see a hamster specifically selected for Chi.  A HAMSTER.  A living, breathing, eating, pooping - Mommy gets to take care of and clean it - pet.

It's like the fish she got during a weekend trip to the grandparents.  A great gift that is interactive, but requires parental supervision and responsibility. 

I already have a budding zoo at home: a parrot, a dog, a kid, and a 23-year-old brother.  Between them, I'm always buying food, cleaning something, and picking up little messes that no one else notices.

I didn't have the heart to thank the teacher and respectfully decline the gift, so we welcomed "Happy Hamster Pee Wee Jones" into the family.  He arrived in a cardboard box with a bag of food, one for bedding, and verbal instructions for his care.  So, I braved the traffic of the holiday rush, the aggravated last-minute shoppers, and the incessant pouring rain in search of a cage.  (After all, if he chews his way out of the box, the dog will have a snack and I'll have a pellet poop trail left as the only evidence of his final resting place).

He's now in a little metal cage with a wheel that he runs on all night.  And Chi wants him in whatever room she is in, so he slept in mine (or rather he ran in circles while I tried to sleep). 

He's had a few minutes of play time with Chi, who thinks he's soooooo
cute.  Then he groomed himself for a half hour, ate, and passed out in a fluffed-up corner between the water bottle and hamster wheel.  Poor thing has apparently never encountered a 4-year-old.

And lucky us, we have the "gift that keeps on  breathing".

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