Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

The school year is coming to an end and I must confess to being relieved that my kids no longer share their classroom with a pet. This is the time of year that the teachers begin cornering parents about taking home Fluffy, the Dwarf rabbit, or Slimy, the Anaconda. It’s been exactly two years since I was last asked to play surrogate mom for the summer. Prior to that, I had emphatically said no when the request was made. But, two years ago, in a moment of weakness, after the full-court press from both my son and his teacher, I gave in–despite having great reservations. Yes, we took Faith, the hamster, into our home even though I was certain she’d die while in our care.

I have to Flashback to explain why I was sure Faith, would not see the inside of the science classroom again.

When I was in grade school I was just like my kids–desperate to bring the classroom pet(s) home over summer, or winter vacation. It didn’t really matter which break it was, I wanted that pet…in my house…under my care. I was around eight years old when I finally got my chance. The classroom pet? A pair of bearded dragons. Yay for me! Two pets! I was to take care of them over the winter break. All I had to do was feed them mealworms and keep their habitat clean. Easy-peasy, right? Yeah, easy-peasy. I didn’t enjoy the whole mealworm thing, but once I realized that holding my breath made contact with them easier, (makes every unpleasant task easier, right?), I nailed that part of the job. I did not miss one day of feeding the bearded dragons. Not one day. And I kept the cage clean. And the fresh water flowing. I did everything I was told to do. And yet, one morning, about a week into our vacation, one of the dragons stopped breathing! Think it was kind of shriveled too, but I won’t go into that–too painful. I also won’t describe how awful it felt to return to school with only one bearded dragon. I was a pet killer!! I clearly could not be trusted. I never volunteered to pet sit again. Not at school and not for friends. Lesson learned. Or so I thought.

Flash forward to 2008. I have agreed to bring the hamster home for the summer but not without asking the science teacher, Faith’s primary caretaker, some questions first. I started off slowly by inquiring about the little rodent’s overall health. Any genetic mutations I should be aware of? No, I was told. Any contact with ill guinea pigs in the past three weeks? Nope, not near any other animals. Mange? No, mange free. Final question, how old is Faith? The teacher, who was now sweating a bit from my interrogation, couldn’t really answer that question. You see, Faith was given to her by the family of one of her students. Her best guess, Faith was between two and three. Satisfied, but still not convinced, we brought Faith home.

Faith was gone three weeks later. Little jerk barely made it to July!! My son did everything correctly too. He fed her, cleaned her poop-filled habitrail (with his breath held of course) and played with her! He lovingly played with her every single day. Didn’t matter. One afternoon my husband (thank goodness it was my husband and not my son) was putting something in my son’s room when he noticed Faith was not moving… DEAD. And stiff as a board too! Was a really nice experience having to tell my son. I blamed it on the rat’s hamster’s age. Told him she must have been closer to three and was nearing the end of her long, happy life when we agreed to host her for the summer.

Moral of this story: don’t bring home the damn classroom pets!! They don’t like life outside of the school! They will die in your care! You and your kids will be devastated! Got it?

So, how many class pets have you killed?

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11 responses

  1. Well, at least Faith didn’t leave you guys with Mange!

    One of my older kids got to bring rats home for a weekend once. Salt and Pepper. They’re clean, the teacher told us. Yeah, but they’re rats, I said. I finally relented since it was only for the weekend. Thankfully, they returned to school alive. No real drama. Plus, after about four hours, the kids were bored. Never got asked again.

    And bearded dragons? What kind of cool school has bearded dragons for classroom pets?

    • Yes! No mange! Thanks for the glass half full perspective!

      I am beginning to think we are the only classroom pet killers out there…

      Montessori. I attended a Montessori–the bearded dragons were encouraged to learn/develop at their own pace. 😉

  2. hey, Jennifer- loved this blog. I can relate in many ways. before having kids I once “bunny sat” for a friend who went overseas to Scotland for a couple of weeks. had never taken care of a rabbit and didn’t know much about them, but was happy to help my friend who didn’t have anyone else handy to do the deed. well, who knew that the little buggars don’t know how to cough up hair balls and the little thing ended up dying from ingesting its own hair ball while under my care?? I was devastated and wracked with guilt to say the least, and one of the hardest things to do is to tell a good friend that their pet is dead on your watch…YIKES!!

    now that I have my kiddos, we have fallen under the spell of adopting many a critter and have gone thru a half dozen hamsters, a scorpion, countless fish, a bearded dragon, believe it or not- a rabbit (even after my own trauma) and three dogs.. one summer after my daughter was in kindergarten we adopted the class guinea pig for the summer. thankfully, it survived, but it was a weird critter to take care of. what is up with that weird little noise that they make?? strange little critters to say the least!

    okay, you could say we’ve had our own “walk on the wild side” eh! LOL!!

    • Aww, I am sorry that happened to you. We went away on vacation once (when I was in high school) and a friend of mine watched our dog. The day we were to come home (we were visiting San Diego of all places) I called home to make sure dog was okay–my gut was telling me something was not right. Friend told me dog was fine. We flew home and sure enough, dog had been hit by a car and killed. My friend, after speaking to me on the phone, had taken our dog outside and left her in our backyard (thinking we’d be home soon and that it was fine to do that). The problem was that she did not shut the gate all the way and our pooch got out and was hit. I was not very gracious or forgiving. I hope your friend was!

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