The big kids get a weekly allowance. I will not tell you how much it is because it is exorbitant, but once upon a time Hubby and I read how much children of their age should get, and let me tell you, it is too much. We know it’s too much because every single week they can go to Wal-Mart and buy another toy. While Little Missy cannot leave the store without spending nearly every dime in her pocket, G has been saving his money. For a snake. And so every time either Hubby or I have taken G and Little Missy to the store over the last few months, G has surveyed his options, weighed them against buying the snake, and the future-snake has always won out.
It is impressive self-control.
When he was maybe three and a half he waited til we got home from the drive-thru before drinking his chocolate milk because he wanted to save it for his meal. His sister, by comparison, had the entire carton finished off before the second stoplight on 7th Street. That boy has long had an impressive trait for delaying gratification.
So the snake: he saved and waited and nearly had enough to buy a cold, slithering snake; one more pay day and he was there. Because of his impending purchase, we went to the pet store to talk to the employees and fully wrap our minds around the work a snake would take to keep alive and happy. If snakes can be happy.
While there, Little Missy found hamsters that she could afford on the next pay day and decided, “Hey! I’ll buy a hamster!”
I quickly shook my head to say no, because why all the pets? Can we not just be happy with our sweet dog Molly? But Hubby cocked his head and shrugged his shoulders to say Why not? And after a quick discussion that I lost, Little Missy and G decided to get hamsters. No snake.
Little Missy looked at me with her big brown eyes. “Can’t we just get the snake today? You could buy them for us and then we’ll pay you back when we get our allowance!”
You guys, she is so cute that I almost said yes. But then I remembered our nation’s financial crisis because of putting everything on credit and so I said no, she’d have to wait five days. Five days is a terribly long time to wait, let me tell you. Every morning, “Three more days until we get the hamsters!” and after school, “I told my friends we get hamsters in two more days!”
Page 2 of 2 - Friday finally arrived. We went straight to the pet store after school--no messing around with Treat Time around the kitchen table when there are hamsters to buy--and the employee promptly convinced us to get gerbils, they of the rodent variety that tend not to bite as much and can be kept in cages with other gerbils.
So after dinner (my parents were in town and the gerbils my kids needed happened to be at the pet store across town and so the gerbil-buying had to be put off for another excruciating two hours) Hubby and the big kids drove across Wichita to get the nice gerbils. And they bought other assorted items for gerbil care, the best of which is drops you put in their water so that their urine doesn’t smell.
Hubby and G put the cage together while Little Missy kept a close, panicky watch over the gerbils in their cardboard container. And then we all oohed and aahed over the teeny rodents. First thing the next morning the gerbils were in their hamster balls, rolling around on the floor by my visiting parents.
And they have promptly been forgotten. Hubby does not think they have been forgotten, but those teeny little animals get fed every afternoon and that is about their only interaction from the kids. It’s fine, I don’t think gerbils thrive on human interaction the way dogs do, but I say again: can we not just be happy with our sweet dog Molly?
Erin Fox is a weekly columnist for the Augusta Gazette. Her popular blog - erin’s little corner can also be found on our webpage,augustagazette.com.