By Mary Barbato
I was babysitting for my grandson and needed to buy dog food at the pet store and thought I’d make a fuss over the small pets available to see. “Look, Joseph, at the two love birds kissing each other,” he laughed along with me.
“Nanny, I like birds, could we buy two?” I looked at my sweetheart and said, “I don’t think so. They look so happy here, they would miss their home.”
I got away with that one, I thought to myself. He ran ahead and stopped dead in his tracks. His curiosity led him straight to a hamster cage filled with colorful bright objects. Then, I realized that those colorful objects were a ploy set for children accompanied by their grandparents.
His first stop in the rodent section was watching two gerbils play. He said, “Nanny they have long tails.” My thought exactly; giving me the woolies. He must have read my mind. He was very perceptive for his young age, but after all, he was his father’s son.
“Nanny come over here!” he spotted a cage with a tiny hamster, that had a black stripe covering its body. “Aw…isn’t she cute, Nanny?” He thought a minute and said, “She has a tiny tail nanny.”
Now my little grandson “salesman” was working me for a reaction, His big pleading eyes got to me every time. I called the young girl working in this section over, she gave me the information I needed.
The little thing was called a Chinese Dwarf Hamster and won’t grow more than her already four inches in size. It was a female and they like to be housed alone and are very friendly with humans. They are known not to bite, unlike the teddy bear hamster that like to nibble fingers. My anxiety level dropped after learning the details, but I still kept my poker face on trying hard not to give in. He ran down the
My anxiety level dropped after learning the details, but I still kept my poker face on trying hard not to give in. He ran down the aisle and saw a display of colorful tubing and a double deck habitat for hamsters. I thought back how I bought this for my son close to thirty years ago.
I was getting weak willed and said, “Joseph, maybe for your fourth birthday in a few weeks I might get it.”
Okay Nanny “he said satisfied with my answer.
“I said we have to ask your mother not everyone likes hamsters.”
“You know Nanny we could keep her at your house right?”
He got me, I must admit he was a grand negotiator at three, almost four.
“Maybe, I have to think about it sweetie and besides you might want something else for your birthday.”
Never make a “maybe” comment to a grandchild.
Three weeks went by and he never mentioned the hamster again and I certainly didn’t want to bring it up either. The morning of his fourth birthday I got a call from my son.
“Mom, Joseph woke up and said, we were to go to your house to pick you up.
He said you promised to buy him a hamster for his birthday and he doesn’t want any toys.”
“Okay come and get me I’ll buy it for him.” How could I disappoint him on his birthday was my thought, after all I did say maybe.
The three of us entered pet store, my grandson skipped down the isle and yelled out, “she’s here nanny.”
He bravely held her in his hand, this precious little boy filled with such joy at that moment.
We needed two shopping carts to put the double decker cage, toys, and food into them.
We got to my house and it was unspoken, I would keep her in my home. My daughter-in-law didn’t want anything to do with a rodent.
My son and his little guy had fun putting her cage together.
My grandson said, “Nanny this is my best birthday ever.”
“What are you going to name her?”, I asked. “Unicorn,” he proudly announced. My son and Joseph played with her and left a few hours after to get ready for his birthday party.
My son and Joseph played with her. After a few hours, they left to get ready for his birthday party.
I sat, staring at this monstrosity of a cage on my enclosed porch table.
Oh there was one thing the girl told me in the pet store I forgot to mention, the dwarf hamster was super fast making it difficult to handle her.
My son came on his day off to clean the cage. Eventually, I figured out how to maneuver her without being squeamish. I wound up cleaning the cage, researching her diet needs and how to gain her trust.
My grandson held her with no problem. He would cup his hand and grab her. I tried but she would run away; my hands were too large. I lured her with sunflower seeds and she would take them from my hand. One night I told myself I’m bigger…surely I can conquer holding her. I picked her up and she sprung from my hand and ran down my blouse.
My dogs were not far from me and my maternal instinct took over. I couldn’t have this hamster die on my watch. I picked her up from inside my blouse and got her back into the cage. This episode unnerved both of us.
It took many months for us to gain trust with each other, I scooped her up using a cup and was able to hold her in my hand. I overcame my own hidden fear and we eventually bonded.
She’s comes to me effortlessly now, falling asleep in my hand as I pet Unicorn with my thumb. Ironically my two small dogs ignore her existence which baffles me.
Most importantly, I get to see my grandson’s face beam with love every time he holds her. As a grandmother, I relish these memories, a little maybe goes a long way.
About Mary Barbato
I’m a retired and a grandmother of four gorgeous grandchildren whom I am blessed to have in my life. I enjoy their company better than some adults, especially their uncensored candor.
I love to write and recently wrote my first fiction novel, currently in the hands of my editor.
I have a blog on Word Press where I post photos of my private collection of vintage jewelry with a description.
I live in Staten Island New York with my husband and two sweet pooches, Baby and Leo.
Some of my hobbies include; reading, knitting and playing mahjong with a group of friends.