“I Shouldn’t Do This”

The thought thundered in my head last Saturday. I was with my kids at PetSmart. Yeah, that’s a red flag right there.

We were selecting a gerbil (small rat) and a miniature hamster (cute hat pin). My internal chant wouldn’t stop, but I continued moving forward, helping the kids pick out treats and bedding and wheels and cages and food and every other thing PetSmart can get out of you to support a creature that most people kill with a fifty-cent trap.

So why did I ignore the wise voice? I was trapped. This summer, my kids put together a power point and presented all the reasons why they should get the aforementioned rodents. They spoke of their desire to take on more responsibilities, promising to pay for the “pets” and take care of all their needs. Loved their persuasive skills, especially the sucking up that occurred immediately before and after.

My husband and I talked it over. It wasn’t totally out of the question. After all, it would be good for the kids to care for a living creature. We told them we’d consider it (translated: “I-doubt-it-but-I-don’t-want-to-hear-your-whining.”) The kids continued their pitch. They even completed the financial report I requested, showing how they could afford not just the pets, but all the other necessities. Even though it looked as if it might take months of saving, they were fired up. Crap! Now what? They had to prove they could handle school and their current chores for a five-week period. Surely, they’d forget by then.

My plan was working. The idea would come up every now and then, but neither had made an effort to save the money. Then their birthdays came, and their generous grandmother sent them nice, hefty checks. No more stalling, it was time to deliver.

So as we checked out at PetSmart, I decided to bury my voice of warning. I peeked at my son’s hamster with its long, black tail, and Michael Jackson’s “Ben” started playing in my head. Didn’t the rat kill someone in that movie?