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I’m Terrified Of Killing The Class Pet

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I’m terrified of my daughter’s class pet – a hamster named Rosie. I’m not afraid of animals, don’t get me wrong, but I am afraid of having to take care of this damn class pet. Every weekend – by last name, alphabetical order – a student in my child’s third-grade class gets the honor (ahem) of bringing home the hamster for the weekend.

My daughter’s turn is in a couple weeks. I’m literally counting down the days, not out of excitement but out of anxiety. I do not want this pet in my house. Not because I don’t like pets, but because I don’t want this hamster to DIE in my home, on our clock. Frankly, I would never be able to get over the guilt of having a hamster, especially the class pet, die on my weekend.

And, no, she does not just “stay in the cage,” as I found out from other mothers at pick-up time. Rosie the Hamster must come out of her cage and run on her wheel (or something like that). I can’t say no to having this class pet come home for the weekend, either, because my daughter is super excited about Rosie the Hamster staying with us.

Part of my paranoia is that I’m superstitious and the fact that this hamster is named Rosie makes me tremble. Three years ago, a nanny bought my daughter a goldfish for her 5th birthday. The goldfish was also named Rosie. Goldfish Rosie lived with us for a whole two weeks before she died of accidental overdose of fish food, thanks to one of my daughter’s friend who had never fed a goldfish. When I turned my head on that fateful day, I saw she had dumped a HANDFUL of fish food into poor Rosie’s bowl.

Then, just over a year ago, my nanny bought my daughter another goldfish for her 7th birthday. We named her Miss Rosie II. I’ve been a diligent goldfish owner for more than a year now (pat on the back, thank you very much), ensuring  Miss Rosie II is treated like a queen. Her bowl is cleaned regularly. When I go out of town, I even have a goddamn fish sitter because I am still so traumatized over the death of Miss Rosie Number One, and I don’t want this fish to die.

Quite frankly, I still can’t figure out why anyone would buy a child a pet without asking the mother, because we all know that even if we mothers aren’t the ones feeding the pet, we are at least saying, “Did you feed the fish?” In the same vain, shouldn’t teachers ask the PARENTS if they want a class pet? If you ask any 8-year-old if they want a class pet, of course the answer will be yes. But ask a parent, honestly, if they want to take care of a class pet, and I bet most parents, though it’s not a HUGE deal, don’t get me wrong, will say, “I have two kids and a dog and three birthday parties to attend and buy gifts for, and I have to go grocery shopping and buy new winter boots for my family, so ideally, no, I don’t want to add taking care of the class pet to my weekend. Thanks but no thanks.’

But it’s not really a time thing for me. It really is an oh-my-god-I-don’t-want-to-kill-the-class-pet thing. I don’t even have plants in my house for this reason. So I already have back-up plans in place. The first thing I’m going to do when Rosie the Hamster arrives home is to take a few really good photographs of the thing. That way, IF she does die on my watch, then I can at least have the option of going to a pet store (that I’ve already scoped out) to get a look-a-like replacement. I know, I know this sounds awful. But I’f rather have a replacement hamster to go back to school with than an empty cage with, um, nothing in it if, god-forbid, something happens to the hamster.

I’m also only allowing my daughter to take out the hamster in one room. All I need is to LOSE the hamster in my house and spend the weekend trying to find it under a couch or in a pile of stuffed animals or under the fridge. My recollection of family hamsters or gerbils growing up (and, no, I really don’t know the difference) is that we found them, DEAD, like five months after the fact. Seriously, how could I show my face to the teacher? I couldn’t very well send in an e-mail saying, “Listen, the hamster, I’m sure, is fine. It’s just that, um, we’ve misplaced her!” And, truth be told, and I’m not going all PETA on your ass, but I really don’t like caged animals. I really DO wonder if Miss Rosie II has a good life in her fishbowl.

I have about 12 days before this hamster is coming home and you can bet your butt I’ll be doing all the research I can on hamsters in that time. I can’t have two Rosies dying in my house. And who wants to be known as the mother who killed the class pet? Not I. Not I.

(Photo: iStockphoto)