When my son Caleb turned 5, there was almost an immediate shift from wanting every single toy in the world to deciding he wanted every single PET in the world. Yes. Pet. I should have known this was coming. Age 5. The age of determination. I tried to compare notes with my other mommy friends, who happened to be pet-less themselves. They had not yet encountered the famous “Mommy, I want a pet” battle. They were NO help, and clearly I was on my own with this one. I pulled out my favorite ‘go to’ phrases: “Maybe someday,” and “When you are older.”
Though, as the year went on Caleb’s fascination with animals only grew- leading up to the point when Christmas rolled around, the ONLY dreaded item he put on his list was “pets”. I brushed it off up until the moment when Caleb actually sat on Santa’s lap and said the words, “All I want for Christmas is a… pet.” There it was. “Ho ho ho. A pet? No toys?” No toys. Frantic, I thought about Caleb waking up Christmas morning to a beautiful Christmas shattered-pet dreams of disappointment.
So, it has come to this. The day before Christmas Eve I found myself wandering the aisles of a lonely pet store imagining myself in each scenario. Birds? Too loud. Poop everywhere. Cat? Pretty big commitment for a first pet. Dog? Not a chance in an apartment and with my work schedule. Turtle? The aquarium set-up looked intimidating and pricey. Lizard? Feeding crickets are not my thing. Rat? I cannot believe that is even an option. Hamster? .. Hamster. I looked around the aisles and it seemed simple enough.
There was a hamster “starter kit” with a cage and everything. Food was even on sale. Maybe this was a sign. I looked over a few little furry critters and as strange as it sounds, one had a personality. Before I knew it, we were the proud pet owners of a hamster. Caleb discovering the cage on Christmas morning nestled under the tree made me feel like Mom of The Year.
Now, down to the dirty work. How much of a commitment was this? To be honest, not bad.
Here’s why: Hamsters essentially take care of themselves. They eat food out of a little bowl you set inside their cage, drink from a water bottle that is attached to their cage, and get this- they have their own little exercise routine on their wheel. These guys run for miles so no need to “take them on a walk.”
For Caleb, the hamster has been a great way to incorporate the routine of daily chores and a little responsibility for him to take care of. He constantly wants to make sure our hamster friend is cared for and is entertained by watching him climb and explore. Our hamster loves attention and to be held. We have never had an issue with biting which was a HUGE deal for me. Note: The breed of hamster we have is a Teddy Bear hamster, which is said to be one of the friendliest breeds.
Now, cleaning the cage is a thing. A frequent, reoccurring “mommy thing.” But I don’t mind doing it since their cage is filled with bedding easily to change out weekly and we love our little hamster. Keeping him in a clean home is important and is the commitment I signed up for.
One last BIG thing. Hamsters are escape artists. We have had a few close calls of the missing hamster. Fortunately, we have found him each time (I could dedicate an entire blog post on tips and tricks of How to Find a Lost Hamster)- Caleb knows how important it is to close the cage completely every time we get him out to play 🙂
Good luck on your pet adventures! I would love to compare notes on your hamster journey or for those on what 1st pet you chose to go for with your kids. Though, next Christmas I hope we can avoid other “pets” being on the list. One is enough for this mama!