I bought my son a rat today.
Yep. For real. Call it the "last child syndrome" or "he wore me down" or "you've lost your mind."
Whatever it is, I did it.
It's been over two years since I promised Sam a pet if he read his entire children's Bible. He finished right about the time we were getting ready to move.
"Let's wait till we get moved in, Sam. Then we'll see about getting you a pet."
Mountains of boxes and a new address later.
"Give me some time to get unpacked and settled in, Honey."
A few months after that.
"Let's wait till spring. It will be much easier to train a dog in the spring."
Come spring and two older siblings getting engaged.
"Sam, I'm sorry. I know you've been waiting forever, but there's just no way we can get a pet with the weddings coming up. Just wait till they're over, and we'll see about it."
Two weddings later and a budget trimmed thin.
"Babe, we can't afford a dog right now. You're just going to have to wait."
So Sam discovered rats.
He's spent hours researching on the internet, has watched every YouTube video ever made about a pet rat, and has a schpeal that could get him a job as the top rat salesman in the country . . .
"They're the cleanest rodent, highly intelligent and trainable, as affectionate as a dog, and nothing at all like the sewer rats most people associate them with. Bubonic plague? It was the fleas ON the rats, NOT the rats!"
After drying buckets of tears, I swore off small pets years ago! We've discovered dehydrated lizards that escaped their cages, attempted to nurse $5 hamsters back to life after spending $60 at an exotic pet vet, had hamsters put down at the vet, given away guinea pigs after repeated threats to clean their cage, and flushed "Kisses" the fish after we spoke a eulogy over the toilet.
At one point I counted up all the living things in our home . . there were twenty-one including the humans! Twenty-one living, breathing creatures that I was responsible to keep alive. Forget the laundry, homeschooling, feeding the children. We have fish, hamsters, lizards, guinea pigs, and a dog to worry about.
Euthanasia was a tempting option, but the therapy bills would be too expensive. Instead I'd just let them die off one by one never to be replaced. If it wasn't human and it was going to live in our house, it better have a name like Fido or Rover. I was done with small.
Fast forward almost three weddings, two teenagers and one big, brown-eyed eleven year old boy that I sometimes feel has missed out on a boatload of "little" kid stuff as he has chased his older siblings around all their life events and then some.
Sam hardly ever cries or even pouts. But waiting two plus years for his beloved pet was taking its toll on his little boy heart.
And he got stuck on a rat.
I was really trying to hold out for a golden retriever. But $5.50 versus $550.00 was starting to look appealing.
He could train it. It's sociable. And the weight of the guilt was starting to make me walk with a limp.
So when my plans changed today and I had some unexpected free time, I thought "Why not? Let's just go take a look. Maybe he'll see a bird or a fish or an anole that looks like more fun." And off to Petco we went.
He went straight to the rats. Now there are rats and there are RATS. The adult rats look like they could make a grown man scream like a six year old little girl and leap onto a table in a single bound. But the young ones were furry and almost . . . cute?
Sam and I peered into the cage. A little grey guy waddled up and yawned.
"That's how they greet you, Mom! He's saying 'Hi!'"
The rat greeted me. He said hello. So sociable.
"Do you think they might let us hold one?"
"I don't know Sam. They usually only do when you're going to buy it, but we can ask."
"Sure!" the nice rat purveying pet store worker answered.
Sam asked to see the grey one that obviously already liked us seeing how he had been so friendly and offered salutations.
Yeah. Uh huh. You say no to that.
Sam asked if I wanted to hold him.
The little guy snuggled into the crook of my arm and just sat there while I pet his head. His cute little black eyes and sweet whiskery whiskers just kept twitching. As long as I ignored his as-long-as-his-body-tail, I was quickly being won over.
Sam held him a few more minutes, and I told him it was time to put him back.
And then I called Jeff.
"I don't want a rat."
"But Jeff, it's so cute and they're the cleanest rodent, and intelligent, and sociable, and Sam can train it to do tricks. And he's been waiting soooooo long."
"If you want him to have a rat, you can buy him a rat."
So Sam's going to sleep on the name. It's between Wally and Marley.
I kind of like Marley myself.
Smiling big and giving thanks for . . .
~ unexpected free time
~ friendly salutations
~ impulse purchases
~ a boy and his rat
~ the smile on his face
~ the way he can't stop hugging me and saying thank you
~ the giver of all good gifts
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Labels: Thirty Days