OK, so it doesn't have the same ring to it as Miss American Pie, but, we did bid adieu to our beloved pet guinea pig earlier this week. As with everything in my life it was not without drama.
So let me set the scene; I was working off of a solid 23 minutes of sleep within the past 2 days... Migraine from H-E-double hockey sticks and about as much patience as a toddler in church. As you can see the day was off to a fantastic start. I sit and eat my breakfast with Em and notice the guinea pig was still sleeping. Huh, that was odd, but not unheard of. The girls set up a food stand. They came to me first thing in the morning demanding I bring their craft table outside, they were going to set up a lemonade stand because they needed money. They wanted a bubble gun. I told them we needed to plan for a lemonade stand, we needed to get some stuff to I don't know, make lemonade! Oh, and having cups on hand would be a good idea too. They could not be bogged down by the details so they came up with a plan of their own. The girls set up the food stand. 2 snack sized bags of chips, two Go-gurt squeezable yogurts, one random cup yogurt and a half eaten bag of wheat thins. Yup, that is what my kids decided their customers would like. They made a sign for their food sale. It was hand drawn and cute as can be. It advertised watermelon, grapes, cake and a banana. Nothing they had in stock in their display. Each item was priced at a dollar. They stuck the sign in the ground about 25 feet away from their table. Oh, and they set their table up about half a football field away from the street. On a hill. Now, I am not knocking their business model, but, it is safe to say they had no customers that day...
So back to the guinea pig. While Sara and Anna were setting up shop they got hungry. I peeled them an apple. I placed the core in the top of Miss Amerigold's cage. I would do that so she had to work for her treat, kind of make a game out of it. She didn't come right over and grab it. Man, she must be tired I thought. I was pacing around the house all night and she was squeaking every time I would walk in the kitchen. She must be sleeping in I thought. The girls were outside yelling, "food sale" to every car that sped by, Emily was scooting around the kitchen and despite the migraine, no sleep and messy house, life was pretty good in that moment. I walked by the pig's cage and it all fell to sh*t in an instant. She wasn't "sleeping in"...she was DEAD!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!! I immediately call Chuck at work. Get rid of it was his response. Now, I know he is not a fan of pets, except really expensive salt water fish, but I thought he would at least say, poor thing, or something. He told me to throw her away. I can't do that. So he then suggests I dig a hole and bury her in the back yard. No friggin way!! Last week the girls and Chuck saw a huge snake out there. Chuck said it was the biggest garter snake he has ever seen. He said he could feel bones in it's back. In my mind the second he finished that sentence summer was officially over. No more playing in the backyard. I am serious in my fear of snakes. If a snake were attacking one of my off spring you can bet your ass I would not be going out there to rescue them. Instead I would immediately call HLN and report myself to Nancy Grace. I would even give her the headline, "Breaking News! Snake Mom casually watches out the window as her baby is eaten by a reptile". I would be known as Snake Mom for eternity. Kind of like 'Tot Mom", 'Microwave Mom', 'Hot Car Dad'...gotta love her nicknames. But I digress...so I told Chuck there was no way in hell I was going out there with a snake on the loose. Much less carrying a dead rodent...its primary food source. That is asking to be attacked.
So now it is early in the day and I have to deal with this myself. Awesome. F*cking Awesome. I call the girls in and let them know we have something serious we need to talk about. We are all sitting on the couch and I gently tell them. They burst into sobs. Sara runs into the kitchen to see if I was telling the truth. Anna is heaving uncontrollably. Then it happens...in between sobs, "mom, can we get a new one?"...UGH...I knew that was coming but I honestly thought it would be a good day or two before the requests started. Nope...it was maybe, MAYBE 38 seconds. They are screaming, sobbing and snorting uncontrollably. So the baby is terrified and joins in. Remember my migraine from the beginning of the story. Yeah? It is still there so I just sit in the middle of them and cry too. They cried for a solid 2 hours. They decide it is time to put her into a box. I find a very lovely Nike shoe box that should accommodate a guinea pig quite nicely. They get a blanket to put in the bottom of the box and we head into the kitchen to prepare the body. I am not quite sure how long ago she left this world and what the cause of death was, so I am a bit hesitant to pick her up. I send the girls out of the room to go look for one specific blanket to put over her. As soon as the leave I grab the ramp from her cage and try to quickly nudge her into the shoe box. Well, for the first time EVER, Thing 1 and Thing 2 find something in record time. They walk in and find me desecrating the pig's corpse by trying to flip it into the box. I can't accurately describe the look on their faces, it was a cross between horror, disgust and sadness. Anna asks me accusingly, "what are you doing?" It was more of a statement than a question. I don't answer. I just put the ramp down, take one for the team and pick Ms. Amerigold up. She was stiff as a board. So that answers the time of death question. Hours ago. We put her in the box, they give her some last pats and cover her up with the blanket. I send them in to wash their hands. Now what? I have a dead guinea pig in the house. Unless Samuel L. Jackson comes over and throws me up on his shoulders there is no way I am going in the Mother Effing yard, with the Mother Effing snakes. I can't very well leave the box on the kitchen table. 1. That is gross and 2. I have two very curious cats. So I place the shoe box in her cage, roll it back under the air conditioner and turn it on full blast. It is a hot summer day after all.
So the crying and carrying on lingers. Anna keeps saying how she was going to play with her today. I am thinking yeah, right. Today is the one day you had plans to take her out and play with her? I know that sounds cynical on my part but get this; The day before the girls and I had a little chat about how we really needed to make some decisions on what to do with the pig. Unless their friends were over they hadn't been showing any interest in her lately. I told them they needed to step up to the plate with her or we needed to find her a new home. They swore up and down they really loved her and they promised to take better care of her. I guess right before bed Anna asked to take her out to play. Chuck told her it was too late, do it tomorrow. So what does the little sh*t do after this Come to Jesus meeting? She up and dies. Now, did she do it to spite the girls? Possibly. Did she do it because the thought of moving away from our loving family was just too much? Maybe. We will never know. Sara kept saying over and over, "but we fed her last night"...now, please know that she did not starve to death. I took very good care of her. Everyone else, not so much.
Every now and then I would see one of the girls opening the box to pat
her some more. It was heartbreaking to see them hurting. We decide to
remember some of the funnier things that Ms. Amerigold did, like pee on
our Elf on the Shelf. That seemed to help for a few minutes. Sara is all upset because she said her friends were going to play with her on her half sleep-over. She needed to get the word out. She said she was too upset to call anyone. She asked me to put a message on the computer to let people know. So I say I will. She hounds me to do it and then stands over my shoulder as I compose Ms. Amerigold's obituary. It was short and sweet, but of course Sara wants pictures. So we put some pictures on and hesitantly I hit "post". I was hesitant because earlier that morning I read 2 posts about young children dying from cancer. (Which is so unbelievably sad and so frustrating because there is little to no funding for childhood cancer! Please keep that in mind next month and help spread the word to your legislatures to increase childhood cancer funding!) So I felt very sheepish posting about our deceased rodent but I knew it was important to Sara and her grieving process so I posted it. Another important piece was burying her. Chuck dug a grave for her next to Maddie's, one of our cats that has passed on. It was all too much for Anna. She erupted into tears again so I took her inside.
Anna ended up in bed with me after crying herself to sleep. She woke up several times during the night and would cry some more. Then morning came and she seemed to be handling things relatively well. She asked why Ms. Amerigold's cage was on the porch. I told her that we put it out there because we thought it might sad for them to see it empty in the house. She asked why it was empty. Where was Ms. Amerigold? Oh for f*ck's sake!! She forgot she died! I had to tell her all over again!! AHHHHHH!!!
They seem to be over the acute stage of their grief. They have moved on and begun lobbying me for a dog. A 45 minute car trip the other day turned into a full on assault of a "we want a dog" chant. They are constantly looking up different dogs on Google Images. Last night they were on a Newfie kick...Barbara L. that is why you probably noticed an uptick in "likes" for pictures of James. They threaten to grab the phone and tell who ever is on the other end I am the worst mother in the world because I won't get them a dog. Poor Ms. Amerigold, she isn't even gone 2 days and they have moved on from her...to a completely different species to boot!
We did spend 2 nights in a row in the pet store, per the kids request to "just look". So we are nosing around and come across the "Fancy Rats"...well not only did I have to guide my children through the tough life lesson of losing something you love, I also had to have a discussion about the birds and the bees. Albeit abbreviated. The fancy rats were having a 'date night' if you will. Sara points to the rats and asks why is that one just laying there? What is that rat doing to it? Now, I am all for answering my children's questions openly and honestly but, really how does one explain oral sex among rodents to a 4 and 6 year old that less than 24 hours ago buried their pet guinea pig? You lie of course. So I said they were wrestling. The recipient of the services then jumped up and took the other one from behind. Anna says, "huh, that one is a much better wrestler...he is winning". At this moment I glance around looking for a camera...someone, somewhere has to be setting all this up. I can not make up my day to day life. I have said it before...I think I am starring in some warped remake of the Trueman Show.
So, who knows maybe I am the worst mother in the world, but I'll tell you what, I am missing that little critter more than I thought I would. I cut some strawberries yesterday and I brought the caps over to her cage only to find an empty space. Instinctively I grabbed a carrot out of the fridge tonight to give to her and had to remind myself she wasn't there. So Rest in Peace Ms. Amerigold Lemon Lavallee...I hope you are having fun in the great big guinea pig cage in the sky.