My husband came up with the brilliant idea that our girls needed to have pet gerbils. He said he thought it would be good for them to learn how to take care of their own pet. He asked me what I thought. What do I think about bringing rodents into our house? Um….let me think for a minute. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I mean…..no thank you. I think I’ll pass.
Daddy called for a family vote and I was totally mortified to find out that I was the only one opposed. So, off we went on a family trip to PetSmart to buy two rodents. I felt queasy as the girls were selecting their new friends. We were actually going to be taking two mouse-like creatures into our home. The reality of it was almost unbearable.
Mikayla picked a brown gerbil and Hope picked a black one. They picked out a cage and some food and we were off to the register to pay. No turning back now. The critters were already boxed up and ready to go. The ride home was not pleasant. The sound of rodents scratching around inside of the box was just about more than I could handle.
When we got home the new pets were put in their cage. Mikayla chose the name Ping-Pong for her new friend and Hope chose the name Monkey for hers. I’ll have to admit that our girls naming their gerbils Ping-Pong and Monkey was pretty stinkin cute. But I still could hardly look at the new members of the family.
The girls would carry their pets around with them and they would say “Want to hold him, Mommy?” Um…..no thank you. I made it very clear that Mommy was not going to be holding their new friends. About a hundred times a day I would hear the words “Pet his head, Mommy.” I finally gave in and would pet their little heads, but I still was not about to hold one.
The girls decided one day to put Ping-Pong and Monkey in a little red wagon and take them for a ride. It was all fun and games until they climbed out of the wagon. Yep. Rodents loose in our house. Momma was not happy that day. Daddy came to the rescue and rounded up the rodents and put them back in their home. I sure do love that man.
Daddy was right about one thing. The girls were learning how to be gentle and take care of their animals. And it was good for them. They would take them out of the cage everyday and hold them. And everyday I would hear the words “Ping-Pong is loose” or “Monkey is loose”. I would yell for Daddy, Taylor, or Brynna to come to the rescue and get them back in their cage. I still would cringe when they got loose, but Monkey and Ping-Pong were starting to grow on me. I was starting to see them as our girls friends instead of just rodents.
One day Mikayla came to me and said “What’s a matter with Ping-Pong? He’s not moving.” OH NO!!!!! I rushed to their cage and sure enough Ping-Pong was dead. Brett wasn’t home and I was going to have to get Ping-Pong out of the cage. I had never held Ping-Pong while he was alive and I certainly wasn’t going to pick him up now that he was dead. So I got a plastic cup and a plastic spoon to scoop him up with. Something really strange happened in that moment. It was exactly like the scene in How the Grinch Stole Christmas where the Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day. Only it was this Mommy’s heart that grew 3 sizes that day. I began to cry over a rodent.
Ping-Pong was our girls friend and now he was gone. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I wasn’t sure if the girls would understand what death is. Would they understand that Ping-pong was gone and they could never hold him again? The girls acted like it was no big deal until the lights went out at bedtime. Then everything changed. Hope began crying uncontrollably and was saying “Ping-Pong is dead” over and over again. I was trying to console her but nothing I said helped. Taylor and Brynna tried to make her feel better too, but nothing was going to make Hope stop crying. We were all crying because it broke our hearts to see her so upset. She cried for an hour and a half until she finally fell asleep.
The next day we had a private burial for Ping-Pong. The burial was so private that only Daddy and a shovel were in attendance. Hope had taken Ping-Pong’s death so badly that we didn’t want to do anything to upset her again. And so we began life without Ping-Pong.
Hope still has her Monkey. One day this Mommy will also shed a tear for him after he breathes his last breath. Mikayla wants to go back to PetSmart and buy a guinea pig and name him Mouse. Daddy will probably call for another family vote. But since this Mommy’s heart has grown 3 sizes, I just might surprise everyone and vote yes.