Every year as a teacher I set goals for myself…usually that goal includes being more organized and making my classroom as kid-friendly as possible.
A couple of weeks ago, my colleague, N, inherited two hamsters from a former student. “They’re so cute!” she cooed. And then, they started fighting. “I have to give one away,” she said to me. “Do you want one?”
On Friday we made the exchange. “Why don’t you take him home,” N said. “Bond with him. Let him get to know your smell. The poor creature has already had such a traumatic beginning with his sister trying to kill him!”
“Okay,” I said nervously. At the end of the day on Friday I told 23 children…”On Monday we’re going to have a surprise!” And so, with a tall glass cage I took the hamster to my apartment for the weekend. I placed him on top of my wooden table in the living room. The cage didn’t have a proper top, but, I figured he would be fine for the time being (N thought so too!).
I was so proud. My first pet. I showed my neighbor. “Bonito!” he exclaimed and out we went for dinner. I returned two hours and peaked in the cage. “Huh, that’s funny,” I thought. “I don’t see him.” Could he be buried way under the bedding? No…there is definitely no hamster in that cage. “Shit.”
Needless to say, I did not sleep well Friday night. I woke up at three in the morning to see the little guy scurry across the kitchen floor behind the fridge. “Maybe I can trap him!” To no avail as he ran behind the fridge to an unknown destination.
I tried to go back to sleep. On Saturday I went to the gym to try to forget about my little fiasco. “I am going to make a terrible mother,” I thought to myself. “Promising children things and then not following through.” And, not to mention N is going to kill me! I tried to reason with myself. I can always go to the market, buy another hamster, and no one will know the difference. The thought, however, of finding a dead rodent with a trail of poop in my kitchen cupboard did little to appease my fears.
As I sat at my computer I heard a little scuffling here and scratching there and knew it was close…but WHERE?? Finally…the sounds led me to my oven door. I opened the oven. Nothing. Then, I took off the cover to the inside part of the oven (I didn’t know it came off), and there with his little butt sticking out sat the little rascal. “HA! You are so dead!…I mean, so trapped!”
I grabbed my wallet…and my keys (of course), and with my heart racing, afraid it was going to somehow escape in the ten minutes I was gone, ran off to the market to buy a new cage. How is it that I’m not afraid to walk the streets of Mexico City late at night (in safe neighborhoods of course), hitchhike (um…only when I trust my intuition? :), cage fight, but picking up this maldito little hamster scares the begeezus out of me?
I bought the little prince a mansion with two stories, a ladder, and a little house that he could crawl into and hide. I asked the hamster lady the best way to pick him up. She told me to grab him by his neck and if he bites to flick him gently on the nose. “Okay….I can do this. I can do this.”
I opened the oven door…mmmhmm…playing dead, you can’t fool me…reached down, and grabbed the little guy by his neck, much to his squealing misery, and plopped him into the cage. “YE-AH, hamster! Take that! You can’t mess with me!”
Much to the children’s delight they met their little friend today. They asked if one day they could take it out of the cage so they could hold it…