Hams the hamster came into our family on January 31. We all oohed and ahhed over him. Jack, our dog, ignored his existence. I know now that was all an act; we found Jack, front paws posed precariously on the dresser in front of Ham's cage. Luckily we stopped Jack before he could lick the cage open, sending Hams to a certain shaking or swallowing demise.
Originally we bought Hams so that our younger son would feel special and have something of his own to care for. Jack is the entire families, and so are the fish. But J (our youngest son) was feeling a bit out of sorts because of all the time we spend at the hockey rink for N (our older son). Hockey is a whole 'nother post. But back to Hams.
I know nothing about hamsters. They sort of creep me out. But Hams is a Chinese Dwarf hamster, so he's really little and somewhat cute. He does look like a mouse, though. I secretly wonder if the PetSmart people chuckled to themselves as we walked out with this fake mouse and $100 worth of stuff to take care of it. But I digress.
I try to view each new experience as an opportunity for research. Not only am I learning what hamsters are all about (yippea for me), but I'm watching first hand how having this new little thing is changing my nine-year-old's life.
He's suddenly concerned if Hams is eating and drinking enough: "Why do we have to refill the huge water bottle each day, Mom? Hams can't drink all of it." "Quick, Mom, it's time to replace those pellet thingys. My calendar says it's been three days." (sidenote: when we brought Hams home, J filled out each day on his calendar that he had to do something for the hamster. I.e. feeding, changing the bedding, cleaning the cage.)
He thinks the hamster is brain damaged when it drags a bunch of his bedding up to the huge wheel that is supposed to be his source of exercise, and proceeds to sleep in the wheel: "This is the dumbest hamster in the world. We should take him back and get a new one."
Everyone he's met since getting the hamster, my nine-year-old-who-rarely-talks-to-members-of-his-own-extended-family was yaking it up with strangers. J didn't have enough time at our dinner out that night to tell the waitress everything she needed to know about his new hamster.
So I'll look past the stinkiness, the poop pellets racing out of the huge wheel when Hams does decide to use it (maybe he'll sleep there forever, and I won't have to worry about flying poop-we did buy him another small wheel to go inside of the cage), as well as the daily "refreshing" of his bed because this is all research. Someday don't be surprised to read about one of my character's taking care of a hamster. AND, I'll be sure to leave in all the gross and messy things I've learned - because my audience will love it! I know my son does.