Guys, last week I shared with you my tale of Thanksgiving woe, but I didn’t even tell you all of it. There was more.
On Sunday afternoon at the end of the holiday weekend, my son and I decided to clean his hamster’s cage. I’m not going to leave you hanging, waiting for the exciting conclusion of this story. It was just this – Sunny Hunny Nibbles was dead. I was going to have to deal with this, too.
I’m nothing if not overly sentimental, so here’s a fitting tribute to our pet hamster, who died during Thanksgiving break 2019. Three years ago, my friend Jean called me to say that she was having a little problem with her kids’ pet hamsters and asked me to please come over to help her out. She had recently adopted two hamsters for her son and daughter, and the kids kept letting them out of their cages. I assumed they were loose and she needed me to help her find them. When I arrived, I found that there was more to the story than I expected. Her daughter’s hamster was in fact missing from its cage. But the real problem was with the other cage which she discovered contained not one, but nine hamsters, without any warning. Her son’s “male” hamster had given birth in the mess of shredded hamster bedding beneath the hamster wheel.
I went into crisis mode, and first gathered up the missing hamster, which I found behind the piano and captured in a basket with Jean’s six-year old daughter. She was so elated to be reunited with her hamster, Mrs. Hunny Nibbles, that she almost didn’t notice when Jean and I removed the first dead hamster baby from the pile and disposed of it outside. There were still seven babies left and Jean was completely distraught over what to do with them. Being what is known as a “sucker,” I agreed to take one Hunny Nibbles home with us that night. My friends Beth and Sue also agreed to take in a baby hamster each, so there were now several members of the Family Hunny Nibbles out in the world in our small town. My son named his Sunny Hunny Nibbles, and immediately wanted to call my mom to tell her about his new pet, announcing to her excitedly that we had brought home Sunny Honey Nipples. Grandma was very confused.
My son and I are proud to report that Sunny outlived all of his siblings. His mother passed first, not long after his birth. His siblings, Kiki and Pickles Hunny Nibbles, adopted by Beth and Sue, died this past summer. The death of Sunny was the end of an era for the Hunny Nibbles family of upstate New York.
I’m telling you this whole story about Sunny Hunny Nibbles, because when I found him dead in his cage at the end of my quite literally shitty Thanksgiving weekend, I thought, fuck, this is what it really means to be a single parent now. There is absolutely no one else to help deal with the dead hamster. It’s all on me to get him out of this cage first and foremost (so effing gross. I used a little garden shovel and told my son not to look). But I also had to make sure that I got it all emotionally right with my son. I wanted to let him know it was ok to be sad about Sunny, but that death is also a natural part of life. If we love something, we have to also be willing to see it go.
In the end, we buried Sunny beneath the peony bush in the front yard. I told my son when it blooms this spring, we will think of Sunny. I cried a little during his eulogy. Sunny, you were stinky and you made too much noise at night and your gross little poop pellets were always getting flung out of your cage. But you were a good hamster, and we loved you. In the morning, the snow covered his grave, which helped.
At 9:00 the next morning my ex came to pick up the kids, and despite how hard the weekend had been, I was so thankful that the kids and I had each other through it all. If my baby vomits during Thanksgiving dinner, I want to be there to rock him to sleep afterwards. If my older son loses his hamster, I want us to be together to bury him. I want to give him an ice cream sandwich afterwards, and turn on Garfield on Netflix, and put my arm around him. I screamed by myself in the living room for awhile after they were gone. It’s fucking hard to let them go.
A little while after they left, I went in the bathroom and discovered that my son, who is always using too much damned toilet paper, had once again clogged the toilet. I got out the plunger, but no matter what I did, I just could not unstick that fucking clog. It was really snowing at that point, and I wondered if I would even be able to get a plumber. There was gross toilet water all over me and the bathroom floor from my plunging efforts, and I thought, Jesus, can I just for once get a fucking break?
I went on YouTube. I learned that the best way to plunge a persistent clog is to get a good seal over the drain with your plunger and then do short, quick, repeated pumps on your plunger. It worked. The toilet water went down. It was Thanksgiving after all.
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