So, I guess I should start with the fact that our family already has a small breed dog and a fish tank with some aquatic frogs.
But, to my little guy, these were family pets, and has been pleading for his “own” pet for almost 2 years (he turned 6 a few months ago). With showing more responsibility and helping us out more around the house, we decided it was time, and he was old enough, and responsible enough, to have his request considered.
After asking around, we came down to two options: Bearded Dragon or Syrian hamster?
I also have an 8 year old daughter, who is also responsible (mostly) and likes to help (sometimes).
But whom also is slightly dramatic (can anyone else relate?) and wanted her own pet too, “to make it fair”
Since our son was asking for a pet for way longer, we told him we would get him something, and decided to keep it a surprise that we were also going to get one for our daughter.
We got not one, but two Syrian hamsters, two cages, food, and bedding stuff. We decided on hamsters because they tend to have a shorter life span (of about 2 years), which makes them great for a starter pet, teaches kids the responsibility, about life & death of pets, and isn’t a 10-15 year commitment, like a lot of other pets. However, my son’s hamster is 3x the size of my daughter’s, and even though the pet store told us they estimated his age to be around 6 months, we have a feeling hes around 90.
Friday morning, I went to the pet store after I had dropped the kids off at school and got the hamsters and their cages. Then I went home and got them all set up. A pink cage for my daughter’s and a blue one for my Son’s, and set them up in each of their bedrooms. Because that worked out well (note the sarcasm as I reflect on an entire night of wheel spinning noises where there should have been silent sleep)
After school I picked the kids up and brought them home to surprise my son with his new pet – he was over the moon in love – my daughter was happy for him, but green with envy. When she went into her own room and saw she had one too, she “happy cried” and jumped into my arms. That one gesture from us to give her something to care for and be responsible with, proved to her that we trust her and that we know she is capable, and she is proving to us that we were right. We decided to surprise her not because she pouted, but to help her realize her potential and make her responsible for something other than herself.
Most of the weekend my kids played with and cared for their hamsters, and did not have screen time!
My daughter read all of the pamphlets to her brother about how to care for and handle them that I had grabbed from the pet store, and she know knows everything about hamsters – in fact, if you ask her, she knows everything about everything, like most other pre-teen girls do. (Rolls eyes) Haha
As of Sunday evening, the hamsters have been moved out of the kids rooms, they are more active at night than originally anticipated. And by that, I mean I cannot stand the constant wheel turning, the water bottle spout clicking, the moving around and running (while tossing shavings from the cage everywhere onto the carpet so I have a brand new pile to vacuum up every morning…) – and mommy needs her sleep! So they are now on the main floor, and are adjusting well to their new home.
In case you were wondering, our dog LOVES them. She is a Pinscher/Pug cross (or mini rottweiler, if you will…), and we are convinced that she thinks the hamsters are now her children.
In my opinion, pets are wonderful, for adults and kids. With children, they teach them so many things through interaction and life that books and toys and other kids will never be able to give to you without them. Caring for something, playing with something that cannot tell on you and depends on you for its sustenance (even though mom will help out as needed, of course), taking care of another being’s emotional needs (like petting & handling it daily), watching the cycle of life (hopefully our old a** hamster lasts for a while, hes so darn cute!!!) – these are experiences the children will remember for the rest of their lives.
My kids having their “own” pets have taught me that the dirty cages, the extra responsibility on mom to oversee the care taking, the noise at night, the extra things to wash – it’s all worth it when you see the look of joy on your child’s face when they are playing with their very own pet. These guys have added so much more family, sibling time, and entertainment, we are so happy with our decision.
Both hamsters are male, but they have been named Rocky and Cupcake
What was your or your kids first pet and what did you learn from the experience?