Saved by Technology

My children wanted a hamster, begging for it in the way they ask for anything small and cuddly and cute. “Please, mom, please mom, please!” They promised to feed the hamster and clean his or her cage. They vowed never to let it run wild around the house and possibly burrow itself into a sofa and make a nest there, the way a hamster did in the home of the friend I once knew.

I was adamant. “No hamsters. No gerbils or ferrets or pet mice.” I explained these animals were rodents, and rodents belonged outside. Not indoors, in their bedrooms, where the scent of cedar sawdust would permeate their clothes, their bed sheets, their hair, and drift down the hall to the kitchen, where I would also smell it. 

Friends I polled backed me up, citing the squeaking wheel on which hamsters play, only at night, and for hours at a clip, and their long, seemingly endless lifespan. ”Twelve years!” one friend said. “The pet store told me it would live five years max.” The consensus was unanimous: “Stand your ground!”

Even with the reinforcement, I felt bad. I try to be reasonable with my children, and I knew at least one friend for whom a hamster is a cherished member of the family. Kallie bought Maya a teddy bear hamster a year ago and every time I see how Maya adores that little guy, I’m tempted to give in. Once again, I found myself in that uncomfortable place in parenthood: My children wanted something that, as a mother, I didn’t believe would be best for our family.

Then, last week at Mateo’s preschool show-and-tell, someone brought in a Zhu Zhu pet. A Zhu Zhu pet, for the uninitiated—and I count myself among that number until very recently—is a small, stuffed, motorized hamster. It’s factory-crafted to resemble actual size and shape. “And that would be OK with you?” I asked the kids. “Instead of a real one?” 

“Yes!” Mateo and Olivia screamed with delight. “Zhu Zhu pets! Zhu Zhu pets!” 

So off we went to the toy store to buy the adorable brown and pink pseudo-animals Mateo and Olivia now love. The kids play with them for an hour at a clip (eternity around here), giving the animals voices and story lines so compelling, I almost swear those things are real.

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5 Responses to “Saved by Technology”

  1. Tia Cookie says:

    Funny you should mention Zhu Zhu pets! My mother in law, who lives with us, is insisting she needs her ‘own’ dog, despite the fact that we already have 2 dogs. I suggested to my husband just last weekend that we should by a Zhu Zhu pet for her. He was not amused. I am so happy to hear Olivia and Mateo now have ‘pets’ of their own!

    Love, Tia Cookie

  2. Jessica says:

    Dear Tia Cookie:
    Olivia and Mateo love their Zhu Zhu pets! Cuddly and cute, and they make lifelike chirping sounds. No clean up or walking required. Have you thought about a Webkinz? I hear they’re fun, too.
    Good luck!
    Love, J

    Hi Kelly:
    Wasn’t it? Very quick.

  3. Jini says:

    My girls are obsessed with them! They just came out with “baby” zhu zhu pets and this is their latest fixation. We bought two over spring break and it has been the greatest thing ever.

  4. Jessica says:

    Zhu Zhu pets, but miniature. Smaller and, if possible, cuter. Will have to look into these. Thank you, Jini!

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