So our pet rat died last night. I know, I know, a rat? Yes, a rat, and he was a really nice guy, and heck, he had been very helpful with getting us through a tough time with Seoul Man.
Our journey to “Mr. Rat”, whom I originally named GW, definitely warrants to be part 3 in my ongoing series “You Had to do WHAT?”
So about 2 or so years ago, something really rattled Seoul Man one night and it caused quite the horrible sequence of terrible sleeping events. When it started (I am thinking perhaps a night terror) he became petrified to be alone in his room. We had to resort back to being in close proximity until he fell asleep again, even laying down in the hallway, but he would wake every hour or so in a panic. Having the attachment issues we had in the past, we just go back to how we handled things then as to not cause any regressions. Eventually the panic went away, but the night time wakings didnt, but it didnt stop him from waking us up. What began as “Im afraid” turned into “OK guys, Im awake. Entertain me!” Ummmm no…..
I of course began to lose my mind, as sleep deprivation is not one of my strong suits. But then I had an idea. If he had “something” in his room to keep him company, he wouldnt need us, right? Makes sense, right? To say that when I said I was going to get something like a hamster for Jack (he was around 3), I received SOOOOO Many “You’re crazy’s”! “Ugggg, you have enough on your plate’s!” and my favorite, “Its not going to work’s” – even from my husband.
I never felt SO HAPPY to announce on Facebook that EVERYONE ONE WAS WRONG! I think I even prefaced it by saying BITE ME!
So yes, my hamster idea worked. When Jack would wake up at between his then usual hours of 1:30 to 3:30 am, he would go and talk to “Hamster”! If he wasnt talking to me I was happy!
We picked out Mrs. Hamster from a local non chain pet store. She and her girl friends had just arrived, and I picked her because she came right to the glass of the tank to say hello. I opted for a Teddy Bear Hamster as I needed to make sure that it was big enough for a 3 year old to handle. She was really awesome. VERY friendly, VERY social and VERY Cute.
Then one day, about a week after we had her, I went up to Jack’s room, and there was no longer 1 hamster, there were about 13. If you heard a faint scream in your neck of the woods, even half way across the country, that was me. She must have been preggo before I got her, or else every one of those babies were going to be named Jesus. I called the Pet Store, and they said “If you can keep them, it would be better. Then bring them in when they are older.”
Ummmmm No…..Sorry……no more babies in my house please. PLUS, if you already are unaware, hamsters have a tendency of EATING their babies when they are stressed. I could see it now. Child walks into room and beloved hamster is chewing on one of her children. Cue the mental sequence in the child’s head associating me to chewing on him ANNNNNNND we are back to non sleeping.
So, no, I packed up Mommy and her babies and back she went. I was not happy to hear screaming from the cage on the way there, thinking that Mommy was eating them and I was listening to the murder. Thankfully, she didnt. The screaming was just that they didnt like the movement from the car.
We said Bye Bye to Mommy and I felt bad, but again, NO BABY EATING IN MY HOUSE.
So, now I have a void in the child’s room. It was NOT going to go back to the 1:30 to 3:30 am routine of “entertain me!” Yeah, no…not happening…
I wasnt going to get another girl hamster because god forbid I have another mystery pregnancy. My heart couldnt take it. So the only boy hamster they had was an older and somewhat ornery fellow. I didnt care. If he could sit there and listen to a kid talk to him every night, he could chew my fingers off every time I cleaned his cage.
So we had “Hamster” for a couple of months, then “Hamster” died.
OK…..bad luck with the hamsters….BUT GOOD LUCK with my strategy, as my sleepless child felt safe in his room with someone in there with him….
I needed to find a replacement, but was NOT going to do another hamster. I decided to let little child pick this one out.
For those familiar with my child, he has an amazing affinity with creatures big and small. He just “clicks” with them. (See this if you dont believe me).
So we set out for ANY animal he thinks would be a good fit to keep him company at night.
He could have come home with an elephant if he wanted to, as I didnt care as long as it let me sleep!
Oh, but the ONLY thing I just cant do are snakes. I am PETRIFIED of SNAKES.
We first went to the pet store we got the hamsters from. We went cage to cage to cage, looking at bunnies, ferrets, guinea pigs, ground hogs, hedge hogs, lizards, frogs and turtles. Nothing. “We go to different store?” he asked me.
Ummmm…..OK…..so off we go to Petco. Same thing……”We go to different store?”
Then off to another store where I felt so bad I wanted to take everything home, but again “We go to different store?”
Soooo off to Petsmart, the only other store I could think of. We walk in, look around, and I say “did you find something?”
“This! This! I WANT THIS!”
With his eyes fixated on the glass tank, I looked in it and my stomach sank. Yes, he chose the rats. Now, we had just went EVERYWHERE and he saw rats, but NO, he wanted one of THESE rats.
“Are you SURE this is what you want?” “How about these cute guinea pigs?” “NO NO NO THIS ONE”.
Now, you have to understand the my child was EXTREMELY speech delayed at the time. At 3 he had the expressive language skills of an 18 month old. He says to me “Open this up and pull out the tank and pick that one” as he is also trying to open the display to take one out.
Ok Ok Ok…..I think I feel sick.
But to make matters worse, he isnt pointing to the fuzzy, kinda cute, multicolored ones…..he is pointing to the NAKED, HAIRLESS ONE. I think I almost passed out right then and there.
I said “OK, fine, but we have to make a compromise. I just cant do the naked ones.”
Thankfully, he picked one of the others.
So I asked the sales person about what I should know, and was actually kinda surprised to hear that they are very intelligent, very social, and VERY CLEAN. So if you didnt associated the name of “Rat” to the object, its sounds like the perfect pet!
I reluctantly agreed and the rat the child picked out was placed in a box to take home.
Can I tell you, that he was probably the easiest, nicest guy and YES, he was VERY CLEAN. Actually the CLEANEST pet we have probably ever had. We named him “GW”, but as we got to know him, we just called him “Rat”, because frankly, he was too nice to be associated to a rat. (Political statement)
Sadly he passed on sometime overnight. I hope he had a good life with us. I felt bad he didnt get out of his cage much, but frankly, he liked hanging in his house and shredding cardboard boxes. I discovered that pet rats such as these would become snake food when someone would come in and “feeder rats” were unavailable, so even though he didnt like to come out, it was still better than being dinner.
He was surprisingly a picky eater, to which I would tell him “ummm, you are a rat, you should be eating everything I give you!”. But most importantly, he was a good friend to a kid and was helpful in getting over the “Santa Reign of Terror” episodes, as well as other scary times. For the most part we are over the 1:30 to 3:30 am wakeups, but every once and a while, I would hear a one sided conversation. Hopefully we wont regress….
We’ll miss ya buddy! Thanks for teaching us how to not judge a book by its cover.