Thursday, August 15, 2013

10 Things a Hamster Can Teach You

A few years ago, I bought my son a hamster. His name is Artie. This is what he looks like:
(Not Artie, but very close)

Don't mock me. Artie wasn't a smoochy dog or a lap-cat, but he has found a way, somehow, to wriggle into my heart. Having a hamster, and a Djungarian hamster in particular, has taught me a few things:

  1. Rodents are not evil or scary. Bubonic plague? Bah! They are cuddly in their own way, and
  2. they make your heart soft when you hold them and can only pet them with one finger because you realize that
  3. when you stroke them with your index finger, you can feel their tiny, bendy bones underneath, and you realize how big and potentially scary you must be to them, and so you feel powerful and scared at the same time. And thankful that they trust you enough to hold them.
  4. You learn that a bite is not a deal-breaker. All bites are not equal. There are curiosity-nibbles and "I'm tired of your holding me" bites and "You got me too excited" bites. And your heart still goes soft when you pet them next time.
  5. Hamsters are sneaky enough to escape even the best cage, and clever enough to survive in the back of your closet for a week.
  6. And if you've shown respect for the creatures, they'll crawl right back into your open palm when you discover them in your closet.
  7. They are fantastic entertainment when they're in a hamster ball, barreling down the hall at warp speed.
  8. You worry about your hamster. Is his cage big enough? Is he bored? Should I give him an apple slice? What is he thinking?
  9. You can get attached to such a fleeting little thing.
  10. Your heart will go soft too, flubbing around in your chest, when you have to move his tiny body to the terrible trash bag, where all hamsters must go. Your son will cry, and you will hold him, curled up in your lap, and stroke his back and notice how big and sturdy he's becoming. And your son will be too sad to say a word, but you'll try to "celebrate Artie's life" and talk about the way this rodent made you laugh. And you'll feel silly. But you'll also miss that little guy.

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