Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hamster Mommies Are Doin' It For Themselves

When I say I hate hamsters more than anything (at least today) you shouldn't assume that this hatred actually started today because it didn't. It happened a long long time ago, in a faraway land where children were allowed to do a lot of things their parents should have said no to, but parents were all about being friends with their kids back then because back then they were all pretty much constantly under the influence of natural products they grew themselves.

As time when on, and parents grew tired of being kicked in the shins by their kids in public places, it became apparent that this parenting approach was not working out quite the way they imagined it would long ago as they listened to Led Zepplin IV in someone's basement apartment and so that trend eventually went the way of the Troll dolls, except in small communities of people that once were lovingly labeled bohemian but now we just refer to as "fucking cult freaks."

Thankfully today's parents run after their kids with wooden spoons again.

But anyway, back in the days of gauzy skirts and turquoise jewelry, I had children and I wanted more than anything to feel a close friend-bond with them, the one that could only be felt if I gave into their every whim, which of course included standing in long lines to "adopt" hideous dolls but also included allowing them to do things that went against my better judgment, specifically? Agreeing to let them to bring home the pre-school hamster for the weekend.

This hamster's name was Pinky. Every weekend, a child was randomly picked to take bring the class hamster home. Eventually it was our lucky weekend. And while Pinky herself did not actually do anything to make me hate her more than anything, she was the catalyst to a whole series of very unfortunate events involving hamsters. You see, after our Weekend With Pinky, my daughter had a hamster jonz and there was nothing that would satisfy this other than to own her very own hamster, Pickles.

So we bought Pickles and her cage and her sawdust and her bowl and her wheel and her plasma television, dream house and pink corvette. The only thing we didn't buy was a "Ken" for Ms. Pickles, but she didn't seem to mind. Turns out the reason she didn't mind too much is that apparently Pickles was also known as The Pet Store Pump and had had her fill of the mating scene already.

On the morning that I was scheduled to bring the hamster into my daughter's school for show and tell, Ms. Pickles gave birth. She pushed out so many little pickles I couldn't even count them. No , seriously it was so hard to count so I kept doing it and every time I'd get a different number. Let's just say it was in the 20-25 range. Yes, that is a lot of babies even for hamsters. My daughter, while disappointed about show and tell, was thrilled with the notion of all those pet hamsters and at that point I came out of my C'mon People Now Love One Another daze long enough to tell her that as soon as they were old enough they were going back to the pet store.

Pickles didn't run on her wheel much after that. She just laid around while little hamsters fed off her. Every time I'd look in the cage, I'd count the babies. Funny I still got a different number every time, and each time it seemed like less. The babies grew bigger in size and less in numbers. Something was a little weird. I called the pet store and explained the situation and first asked if they'd take back the babies, then I asked if it was ok to keep one of them (because of course I wanted my daughter to like me.) They said yes, and yes, perfectly fine. I just had to wait until they were weaned.

But I was worried because I suspected something and it was something horrible. There was no way for these babies to escape the cage and they weren't hiding under the sawdust (I checked) so there was really only one thing that could be happening to these critters. They were becoming tempting little appetizers for Ms. Pickles. My horrific suspicions were confirmed when I happened to look in the cage one morning before anyone else was up and saw half a baby hamster.

I couldn't look at Pickles again.

And every morning I had to get up before anyone else and dispose of the horrific evidence. I tried to understand why Pickles would do such a thing. I tried to let her off the hook going down the whole nature/primal/instinct road but still I couldn't understand. Then I realized something. In the wild The Pickles Kids would have left home by now. They be in hamster college or they would have got themselves knocked up and left to find their own sawdust nest to push out the kids.

But not these little pickles. These guys just would NOT LEAVE. And Ms. Pickles, not at all into being best friends with her kids, but quite into enjoying her kids as a midnight snack, was using her own kind of tough love.

You see my friends, I learned a valuable lesson from Old Pickles that day. I learned to say things like "no" and "because I said so, that's why" and "you heard what I said," and "oh, you did not say that" to my kids. I learned how to make a scary face and have crazy mommy eyes when we were in public places. And though my children didn't like this new mom too much what they didn't know was that I did it all for them. I had seen the horror of Mom Overwhelmed and as God Was My Witness I wasn't going to let that happen to me.

So my kids can say what they want about my mothering skills.

All I can say is I didn't eat a single one of them.

And I for one am damned proud of that.

-pic by Natalie Dee


  1. So Pickles ate her gherkins? Sorry, I just thought that was too funny! I've heard about hamsters eating their young and had a few full grown hamsters that tried to eat each other. I guess they just find themselves very tasty. That could help explain the constant grooming thing.. Great Spin, you're linked, and welcome to the Spin Cycle!

  2. I'm sorry but I'm laughing my ass off right now. I had a hamster as a kid. Then I thought it needed a friend so I got another one. Then one day I had 13. Then 12, then 11....and so on. I finally took the boy hamster out thinking he was eating the babies but he died a few days later from heartbreak. Never occurred to me it was the mom. Damn it.

  3. I am a mother in the New Wooden Spoon generation. Praises be.


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