Two weeks ago, my wife and I finally cracked on our “no pets in our home, ever” policy, when our son authentically and repeatedly asked for a pet hamster for his 9th birthday.
Being the extremely frugal Jewish-minded parents we are, we cut a deal with our son:
If you buy the cage, we’ll buy the hamster.
So after he went all out and spent $50 on the coolest hamster cage ever, my wife and I dropped the $16 required to purchase a hamster.
Things were off to a shaky start of our son’s pet ownership when as he was attempting to place the hamster in its cage, it bit him on the hand, drawing blood.
I felt bad. So I took it upon myself to hand-tame the 3 month-old hamster.
By Thanksgiving, I had successfully trained the hamster to crawl out of the cage into his hamster ball. Naturally, the rodent and I began to bond.
Throughout the process, I continually invited my son to be a part of the process. He just wasn’t that impressed.
With a 30 day return policy, I began openly talking about returning the hamster. At first, he pleaded against the idea.
But this past weekend, he actually asked if we could return the hamster.
Well… too late.
Because I had already told my wife the day before, “The hamster openly shows me it appreciates me. It depends on me yet I don’t feel taken for granted. I will adopt the hamster as my own.”
I admit, there’s undeniably some psychology in there. I accept that, often, as a parent, you don’t get much verbal appreciation from your kids.
Granted, I’m a grown man. I don’t need confirmation to know I am loved or appreciated.
But the hamster is able to provide something my son is not in this time in his development.
Therefore, the hamster and I now have a symbiotic relationship:
I clean his cage, feed and water him, and provide entertaining exercise for him.
He crawls up to the cage door anytime he is awake and sees me, as if to say, “Hey Buddy, I’m ready to come out so you can take care of me.”
My son named him Alpha. I’m keeping the name. He’s the alpha male of hamsters.