Expanding the Family

I was against it from the start. “Think of the mess!” I cried, “think of the cost, and the noise, and the sleepless nights!” But my protests were in vain, and the Hunter family brought home a tiny bundle of joy. A really, really tiny bundle, weighing less than a soda can, covered in fur, and with round, teddy-bear ears. We’d like to announce the arrival of: Sprinkles, the domestic hamster. Talk about a double take!

Jeremy (my husband) and I had talked about possibly getting a new pet, but I was reluctant. I didn’t want another mess to clean up, even though my kids insisted they’d “take care of it!” Aside from sounding like a vague Sicilian threat, I didn’t believe them. Their abandoned ant farm testified how well they kept their vows! And yet, here we all were, setting up a veritable mansion for the little guy (or girl? How can you tell?) His terrarium is decked out with a hammock, exercise wheel, sand bath, and swing. He’s got shavings deep enough to dig to China and has climbing tubes that stretch to the sky. In terms of hamster houses, this guy is living in Buckingham Palace. His digs are nicer than mine!

My offspring are overjoyed with our new addition, but I’m less impressed. First of all, he doesn’t do anything. He seems to sleep eighteen hours a day (which I’m jealous of) and only stirs when we go to bed. Then he furiously runs in his wheel, sending shavings and poop pellets flying. Every morning I’m greeted with a mosaic of debris on my clean floor. It’s only been two weeks, and this guy is pressing his luck!

Sprinkles also stirred up a long forgotten memory from my childhood. When we were kids, my sister Emma and I had a Guinea pig. She was a pretty creature, with big brown eyes and rumpled brown fur. We kept her downstairs and would play with her under the watchful eyes of our parents. Imagine my surprise when I glanced into her cage one day and saw not one, but three Guinea pigs cuddled up in the corner! Guess who bought the only pregnant rodent in the pet shop? After convincing my disbelieving mother, who greeted the new arrivals with a surprised “what the #@$!%^?” we were faced with a new question: what to do with two extra Guinea pigs? Luckily, some family friends were happy to help, and the two babies were sent off to good homes. Fluffy, the mother, stayed with us for the rest of her (uneventful) life. Sprinkles better not pop out babies; but, if that happened, at least we’d know his gender.

I admit, the little creature is growing on me. Look at his sweet brown eyes, and his cute little hands. Look how he takes a treat and stuffs it into his cheeks; isn’t he adorable? Isn’t he the cutest thing ever? He’s lucky he is, because look at the pile of crap he’s kicked onto my floor. Which brings me to my last question: which one of you kids is cleaning up this $%#&*^# mess??