May is motherhood memoir month

Of Rats & Bees (no mice… no men)

The bees seem to have settled into the hive. I can’t say for sure unless I open the hive and I’m not going to do that, so for now I cross the stream at the bottom of our backyard and gaze over at the log hive, which has a healthy amount of bees enjoying the sunshine and buzzing around it. I believe I can see them going in and out of the opening, a crack in the log.

Meanwhile, Arielle, 13, is still vying for rats. To that end, she wrote a paper on rat responsibilities as she imagines them, given her research. Her first paper was a how-to written in the second person-all you need to know to care for a pet rat. She presented it to us last night. Part of our sequester entertainment and education is presenting ideas to each other. I found it informative, but lacking engagement; since I don’t want a pet rat and don’t plan to care for one, it did not apply to me as an audience. Today she re-wrote the paper as her vision: Rat Dreams

On my dresser sits a tall wire cage… neatly furnished with hammocks, playhouses, wheels, and clean, soft, bedding, kept fresh by spot cleaning and my weekly deeper cleans. 

    It’s 7:42 am, and I’m up, making my bed, sneaking glances at the two pairs of shining eyes looking at me from inside the cage. I put the last pillow at the head of my bed and quickly get dressed before opening the wire door and greeting my rats with a snuggle. I sprinkle some pellets in their habitat and leave them to eat in peace. Locking the cage door, I bounce downstairs to eat my breakfast. Jaspurr, my cat, is scratching at the carpet on the stairs. I sweep him up and press him against my chest. He scrambles out of my arms before realizing I’m holding a few cat treats in my right hand. All of a sudden, I’m his best friend… 

Dad is sitting in his chair at the head of the living room, finishing up his bible study. I plop down on the rug next to his chair and he reads aloud to me from the book of Acts. Mom comes down the stairs and sits down to listen to his calming voice, greeting me with snuggles.

    After cleaning up from breakfast, I sit down at my desk and do my school work, checking over my math test twice before grading it.

A little while later, I’ve just finished a small lunch and I’m ready to go outside. I slip the harnesses onto the rats and we go out for an adventure. My friend Mia is outside riding her bike around the neighborhood, and she’s immediately interested in my new pets. She and I talk from across the sidewalk as I play fetch with my girls. Finally, the rats are tiring and it’s time to go in. I secure the rats in their cage after gently removing the harnesses and then I return to the outdoors, this time with Jaspurr. He sits on the lawn and chews grass as I run up to the mailbox. I return to sit next to him and stroke his back in an attempt to keep his behavior acceptable. Eventually, the inevitable happens and he sees a bird… time to go in again. I give him a thorough brushing and head up to my room. Two healthy but tired rats peer up at me from the safety of their cage, almost completely worn out after so much outdoor fun. They curl up together to gather a few winks before feeding time.

     Two fluffy heads shoot up when I scatter a few pellets into their bowl and around their cage. The girls scamper down from their hammock and begin munching the healthy pellets, each gobbling down their share. While they eat, I tidy the cage and check the litter, noting that they are almost fully litter trained. Then, it’s time for me to eat. I carefully shut the cage, taking extra care to latch the door securely. Heading downstairs to eat with my family, I grab Jaspurr’s food and give him half a can of his favorite – shredded chicken in sauce. I wash my hands and dish up my salad, then sit down at the table and give thanks. 

    After dinner, I take the dishes to the sink for dad and I rinse my own plate before putting it in the dishwasher. I wipe off the counters and do a quick vacuum, then I proceed to the garage to sift the cat litter pan, sweeping up any loose litter on the floor. I get ready for bed and dad comes up to read to me. I snuggle with my rats as I listen to Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series; Dad does a perfect job of voicing every character. Then it’s bedtime and I dream of my rats.

…And now she’s ready to pull weeds and earn money to buy a rat cage and supplies. Life’s adventures are worth writing down. Are you keeping a journal, friend?

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