Yesterday evening we decided to buy Bella a hamster.
We had been talking about it for a while now. Her play therapist brought it up in a session I had with her alone last week. We were talking about how Bella was doing, and she mentioned giving her something that she could care for from the time it was little. To show that not everything dies right away, and there is a life cycle that happens with all of us.
I think she meant growing a plant. We tend to go big or go home.
Big like hamster big. (Just for the record, I wanted another cat…)
We decided not to say anything to her at all about buying a hamster, until we had a good one picked out at the store. The clerk held several for us – Sam also wanted to see how they reacted to him. Having both grown up with hamsters and gerbils, we knew a bit what to look for in health and demeanor. Our hope was to find one that would be Bella’s little buddy and want to stay in her hands or hide in her hair.
With only eye communication and hand gestures (something parents grow amazingly good at), we picked out two we thought were great for her. Then it was time.
“Bella,” Sam said as she held back tears about not getting to hold one yet, “Why don’t you go ahead and pick out which hamster you want? We are going to buy you one.”
Her little face was priceless. She stood there and just lit up and her eyes were huge as she said, “My own hamster? Mine? I can have one? To take home?”
We both assured her that was the plan, and she quickly chose one. Then came the box, the paperwork, picking out food, bedding, and a cage while Bella danced around the aisle. She held him all the way home on her lap, “very carefully” as we heard him scratch and rattle around. Sam talked to her about care, being gentle.
The cage was set up, the hamster was held for a minute so she could see him closer. He ran around on her legs on the couch. Then we explained that he needed to rest for a little while. We could hold him if he came out and onto our hands, but until he got used to us we needed to give him a little space.
This was hard for her; I think in her head she had visions of snuggling him in bed, dressing him up in doll clothes. She finally understood a bit when he crawled into his bed and fell asleep. We read a book about hamster care that night so she understood a little more about her new pet.
Then at midnight, she came into our room. Bedhead and blanket dragging behind her, little poofy eyes looking at us.
“Hamster needs a name.” I agreed, but suggested she think it over until morning. I told her that her aunt (my sister) had suggested a few that were cute. Bella wanted to immediately know what they were.
“One was Thomas,” I said, knowing her love of Thomas the Train might win that one. The little hamster truly does look like a Thomas though.
“Yes,” she declared, climbing into bed with us without bothering to ask. “Thomas.”
So there we have it. A new little hamster, all Bella’s, named Thomas. Our kid’s first pet.
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
More from Diana:
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- How Our First Day of Homeschool Became My Own Lesson
- The Myth of Parenting After Losing a Child
- Say #GoodNightRoozle: The Little Girl Who Draws Herself to Sleep
- Our Colorado Christmas