July 23, 2011

Lannis: “Help!” She Squeaked.

Wonder of all wonders - I'm in Toronto today. Alone. As in: by myself. Oh, I'm with friends - two friends from university days that I haven't seen since then - but it's just me and them. And the Abstract Expressionists, obviously.

I feel like a real grown up. Sigh.

Fortunately, Lannis is here to pick up (yet more) of the slack.

* * *

Once upon a time, I had an ill-fated conversation with my five-year-old, and it went something like this:

Me: Okay. You get a sticker for every day you have a good day at school. [Read: sharing, doing school work, listening, keeping hands to self... generally being a decent citizen and pretending that your mother teaches you manners, or at least respect.] When if you get five stickers in a row, five days in a row you get a prize.

Note: Usually ‘prize’ means going to the Dollar Store and picking out whatever the rewardee’s little heart desires. Non-issue, right? Well, parenting by rote, Mr Lannis and I forgot to stipulate this clause -- as it has been repeated much in the past.

We didn’t notice someone was paying specific attention to this petite slip.

Two weeks later (because our five-year-old goes to school every other day) you guessed it, that damned reward chart was full of stickers for five consecutive good days at school.

Yay. (She says dryly in retrospect, knowing what is coming.)

Five-year-old: I know what I want for my prize.
Me: Okay. We’ll go shopping later and pick something out.
Five-year-old: But I already know what I want.
Me: Sure, what?
Five-year-old: A hamster.


Yep. I could say my kids are smarter than I am, and I walked right into this one, or I could argue that we’re still learning as parents. And frankly, if we are still learning, we’re those students dragging down the learning curve, pulling the median mark of the whole class to abysmal levels.

My apologies, fellow classmates.

And since I like to keep my word (and we were planning on a hamster to teach someone responsibility and kindness, anyway), this is how we recently acquired Hamster.

Whose name, yes, is capitalized as Hamster -- not Hammy, or Fluffy, or anything else, for the five-year-old looked at me cross-eyed and stated formally, that no, it’s Hamster.

How foolish of me to think it would be otherwise.

Anyhow, enter the real problem: I have never owned a hamster.

Nope. We’ve had cats and dogs, and the occasional fish, but never a hamster. We did the research and outrigged his cage with the required goodies -- exercise wheel, log hut to nibble on, cool tubes to explore, hamster ball with which to properly terrorize cats.

These questions I could find answers to online.

No, my issue is where do I put our charmingly disgruntled Hamster when I clean his cage?


I can’t put him directly into the hamster ball, because we politely wait until evening to clean his cage and interact with him, after his little nocturnal self has had a decent amount of sleep and is less likely to nip.

(I’m all for setting up success, not failure, and my kids are enjoying their new friend, which is less likely to be the case if a cranky fluffball gets a mouthful of child.)

So when cleaning his cage, we let Hamster wake up and eat a bit (usually he stuffs his mouth from stress in an “oh, my lord, they’re cleaning my freaking cage! What if they never give me food again?!”) before forcing him to entertain us in his bright orange ball.

I’m wary of tossing him directly into the hamster ball because, well, to be frank, the first thing I want to do when I wake up involves a toilet, not a giant plastic sphere and running for my life while a bunch of kids giggle and stomp around in thunderous excitement.

So the place where I put Hamster for the cage-cleaning tends to change.

Once, it was the basin I use for soaking laundry. Once it was that weed bucket from the grass post.

One thing we have figured out is what doesn’t work. The last time we cleaned his cage? It looked like that picture up there.

Yes. That’s a Tupperware cereal container.

And one stunned Hamster.

Read his face. He has no earthly idea why anyone would want to put a hamster in a cereal storer, clearly.

And I’m fairly certain those beady black eyes are hiding a plethora of curse words, as he’s certainly not cool with this particular idea.

No, I didn’t get nipped, but he was on his back with paws in the air, terrified of the next step, which, to save his nervous heart, did not include the hamster ball, but a restful evening alone in his cage. He seemed too shaken for anything more, and my heart went out to the little bugger.

So... asking you, friends, parents, fellow-hamster owners (by choice or coercion): any suggestions on where I put a hamster while I clean his cage?

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.