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?