Monday, April 25, 2005

How far would you go?

dirty mind - not talking about that.....perhaps later, after we know each other better.
How far would you go to keep your child from experiencing pain? Kien shared a story of his childhood involving stew and a pet....which made me think of pets and DEAD pets....which made me think of my daughter, Erynn, and her pet hamster named Baby.
Well, Baby had lived two years, which is a long time for a hamster. Baby had been a very smart hamster - so smart that she was an escape artist...which wasn't a problem since all you had to do was knock on a wall and she would come to you! Each night I'd knock on her cage and up the tube she would come.
So one night knock I did...and no Baby. "Hmmm...maybe she's still sleeping," I thought. Twenty minutes later, still no Baby. This time I knocked a bit longer, and heard her stirring, and saw her walking towards her tube. But not really walking....more like waivering...a bit like a drunken sailor.
"Mommy!" cried Erynn, "Somethings wrong with Baby! Fix her, fix her!"
So I scooped her up in my hands. Her eyes were almost closed, and she just shook in my hands. I promised Erynn that I would make Baby better....and convinced her to go to sleep.
Alas, Baby died in my arms. I cried, because I'm a softie, but then I thought, "Oh Lordy, what am I gonna tell Erynn in the morning?"
Take #1: "Good Morning sweetie, your hamster's dead. Get ready for school"
Take #2: "Good Morning Erynn, Baby you want cereal or eggs?"
No, neither of those "takes" would do..... I could not give Erynn terrible tragic news about her beloved pet and then cruelly send her to school. I had to protect her from the pain, even if it were only for a little while. How could I do it? I had to switch into Mommy-mode, and quick. I wrapped Baby in T.P. (soft burial shroud), and placed her in a coffee can.....then I put the can in the refrigerator. That way she wouldn't start to smell...or worse.
Morning arrived and it was easy to distract Erynn from Baby. The day went as it normally would, with me picking her up from school and heading home.
"Mommy, do you think Baby will be okay?"
"Oh honey, you know...Baby lived for a long time. She didn't look too good last night" and thinking to myself, "true, no one looks good wrapped in T.P"
"Mommy, I'm gonna hold her and make her better."
"Sweetie, she was so sick. I just want you to be prepared...she might not be okay."
"I know, Mommy."
So we arrive home, Erynn leaping out of the car and rushing for the door.
"Hold up sweetie-darling!" frantically I tried to think of some suitable delay. "Would you please go get the mail?"
"Mommy, I gotta check on Baby."
"Oh sweetie, I'll go check on Baby. You go get the mail"
As Erynn stomped to the mailbox, I rushed through the door, tore around the corner to the kitchen, threw open the fridge door, grabbed the coffee can, unrolled Baby from her burial shroud and plopped her in her cage. At that exact moment, Erynn came through the door.
"Mommy! How's Baby?"
Quickly catching my breath, composing my face into an appropriate mourning demeanor, I replied, "Oh sweetie, I think she's dead."
Tears welled in her eyes as she approached the cage. " Oh, mommy, she's so still....can I hold her?"
I carefully picked up Baby and placed her in Erynn's hands.
"Oh Mommy....she's so cold."
(Yes, I know....I should have thought quicker, longer, something. But honestly, after everything that had just transpired, it was the best I could come up with.)
"Yes, sweetie, I know. Ah...that's what happens when you die."

Erynn did not know the true story of the demise of Baby until she was in high school....she then proceeded to write a story about her horrible mother keeping her dead hamster in the fridge! Yes, she has a wicked sense of idea where it came from. :)
So, how far will a mother go to ensure her daughter doesn't have a bad day? Pretty damn far: Dead loved ones kept in the fridge....


jade ed girl said...

Makes me think I need a new a job. I spend work day lunches with the co-workers, gathered round the giant freezer, our lunches spread on top of it. And I work for a veterinarian :(

lecram sinun said...

Good story, APG. At first I thought we were gonna get a rewrite of the "dead parrot sketch" ... but this was more human and charming.

Lelly said...

We had a lodger once who had a hamster. Bloody thing would keep us awake at night running around its wheel (the hamster, not the lodger!)When the hamster died our lodger, Robin, didn't know what to do with it (we had a top-floor flat so no garden for burials)so he KEPT IT IN HIS DRESSING-GOWN POCKET...for a COUPLE OF WEEKS.
(I think it was wrapped in bog-roll...sorry TP...but wasn't going to check!)
Eventually he flushed it down the toilet.
So, all things considered, I think you handled the situation very nicely, APj!

airplanejayne said...

thanks lelly! I still laugh myself when I tell people the story...."the frantic failings of a mom!"
sure glad I didn't totally freak and just leave it in the fridge: next person to make coffee would have gotten a shock.
love all the words that are used differently 'cross the pond: here a "bog" is like a swamp, so "bog-roll" would end up in a swamp....I think it's a fitting description.