I went in my daughters' room this morning to check on their "roommate", a dwarf hamster who resides in a pink plastic cage shaped like a princess castle. Immediately upon entering their room I could not help but notice a horrible stench.
Oh, no, I thought. It can't be.
Let's just say the hamster was NOT my favorite pet of the four. She was ill-tempered and her favorite response to being petted was to grab onto your finger with all her tiny might and hang off of it. Still, she was our first pet and the family loved her.
I shook the castle slightly, hoping I was wrong, but I wasn't.
I took the cage downstairs and was trying to decide what to do with the hamster's body and the cage, while trying to explain to my 6-year-old and 4-year-old why the hamster was not moving, and trying to comfort the hysterically crying 8-year-old. My other three children just watched.
We finally decided to put the hamster in the only box we could find that matched her size, an empty Kool-Aid singles box. I talked my husband into digging a hole in the back yard and we buried her. The younger four children marked the grave with a strange assortment of rocks, flowers they picked from my garden, and a handmade marker with her name. Oh, and her food bowl---filled with more flowers.
Then, I made the mistake of reminding them that we had all agreed that when the hamster died, we would not replace her with another. They don't make very good pets, after all. They're nocturnal, they don't play like a cat, they aren't friendly like a bunny. And, they love to hang off your finger with their teeth. None of those things make a good pet.
My 8-year-old started crying even harder. But we loved her anyway, she said.
That was true---and then I started thinking about that.
Doesn't God love us anyway, even when by our very human nature we do the most UNLOVABLE things? Even when we don't love Him? Or, when we say we love Him, but our actions say that we don't?
Yet, He still loves us. He proved that point on the Cross.
I looked at my 8-year-old and suddenly all my reasons for not getting another hamster sounded very stupid. I asked her if she really wanted another hamster. She nodded, too upset to say anything else.
My husband kind of rolled his eyes---he knew what was coming. We loaded the family into the van and went to the pet store, hoping we could find one hamster that all six children could settle on.
The most difficult part turned out to be convincing my 10-year-old that we were getting ONLY another hamster, not a hamster and another bunny, and convincing my 12-year-old that Kitty and Kitty #2 most certainly would NOT agree to another cat being brought into our home. Choosing a hamster was actually quite easy---we found a black and white fellow who let my son pick him up WITHOUT latching onto his finger! The pet store guy said he's friendly, so we took him at his word and decided to adopt him.
We brought him home and put him in his new home. (Luckily, we had a spare cage, so the little fellow does NOT have to live in a pink castle!) He made himself right at home, getting food from his bowl and stashing it away (hamsters hoard food), climbing around the cage, playing on the wheel...He even let us pet him and it did not bother him. He seems as if he'll make a fine pet.
But, do you know what? Even if he doesn't, we'll love him anyway.