Wednesday, March 03, 2010

and their names would be butter and sunshine

I've been a part of a triplet support group since before our children were born. And over the past almost six years, I've made some very good friends.

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Friends that I might not talk with everyday - but friends that whenever we do get together, especially when we're without our children, we can easily sit and talk until 1 AM when they turn off all the lights in a restaurant and kindly request that we leave.

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Every few weeks, since our children were infants, I've been getting together with three other triplet moms for regular play dates, and it has been absolutely awesome to watch all of our children grow up together. But due to preschool schedules and job schedules and travel schedules - it has been several months since we've last met.

So today, people held children out of school - I took some time off of work - and we all rode the Amtrak train up the beautiful coastal town of San Juan Capistrano.

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We exited the train, crossed the tracks, and there was the most adorable little petting zoo I've ever visited. It's called, "ZooMars." If you live in Southern California, I would highly recommend a visit. There are ponies, goats, cows, turtles, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and a nice playground / picnic area.

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You could buy small trays of food for the animals, and almost all of the five-year-olds (all 12 of 'em) were perfectly content to sit and play with the guinea pigs and rabbits the entire time we were there.

Sure, they liked the rabbits well enough.

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But what they really liked were the guinea pigs.

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At least for Carolyn, she was content to forego lunch, pony rides, and anything else the zoo had to offer. All she wanted to do was sit and play with the guinea pigs the entire three hours we visited.

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And the whole way home, all I heard was, "Mommy? Can I get a guinea pig?"

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"Mommy? You know what I'd REALLY love? A guinea pig!"

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"Mommy, I think a guinea pig would be really fun for our family."

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"Mommy, I LOVE guinea pigs."

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"Mommy? Can I have a guinea pig?"

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"Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?"

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Driving from the train station back to our house, all of the children fell asleep in the car. When we pulled in to the driveway and I woke them up, Carolyn looked around bewildered and asked, "Where's my guinea pig?"

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When she realized we didn't have any guinea pigs with us, they all cried. And cried. And cried. And sweet mercy, you've never seen such sadness in a child. There were real tears. Not the fake kind that they squeeze out when I make waffles for breakfast and they really wanted pancakes.

This whole wanting a pet thing has been building for quite some time, with the girls, especially. They really want a dog, a cat, a bunny, a hamster - heck, they'd settle for a fish. So a lot of people might have seen this terrible distress in their child and thought, "What kind of monster deprives their child of a pet?!" and swung their car around and driven straight to a pet store.

But I didn't.

I told them to get out of the car and get inside FAST because we're having pizza for dinner and I didn't want it to get cold. Also - I've got a predicament: I'm not too keen on having another being in this house that poops and which I cannot deduct from my taxes.

Although we once had two dogs and two cats, I just don't feel the same overwhelming desire to have pets anymore. We live in a small space and the thought of having one more thing that I'd be responsible for feeding, cleaning up after, and worrying about doesn't sound particularly appealing. Especially since supporting such a life form that only lives five years and can't take care of me in my old age, has absolutely zero return.

EXCEPT, it would make my children incredibly happy.

And I am a sucker for seeing my children happy.

Tonight, I had the most smooth bedtime operation I've ever had in my entire life, or at least the last five years and four months. Tonight, all I had to do was say, "If you REALLY want a guinea pig, then you need to eat your dinner, clear your plate, go take a bath, get in your PJ's, brush your teeth and get right in to bed without ANY problems. If you can do all of those things, I'll THINK about it."

The words hardly left my mouth and our house was transformed in to a military academy. For the first time that I can remember, the children not only did everything I asked of them, they actually took it upon themselves to get HENRY ready for bed. And that's when I recognized that they have a lot more potential than what I've been giving them credit for. They can get their baby brother in a diaper, brush his teeth and start a load of laundry?!

Kids, tomorrow you'll be changing the oil on the van. Don't even try to tell me that you can't do it. I know your little hands are the perfect size to unscrew that recessed filter cap.

So maybe I'll play this "If you really want a guinea pig..." card for a while.

Or maybe the children will totally forget.

Or just maybe, Charlie and I will crack and we'll assume the responsibility of two more little poop machines. Two, because after the girls told me they had names picked out, I did some research and have learned that guinea pigs are social animals, so you'd never want to buy *only* one.

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Yep, I'm a sucker alright.

Here's to hoping they forget. Otherwise, the guinea pig cage will be suspended from the ceiling because there really is no place else for it to go.

32 comments:

  1. Just remember, the guinea pigs at the petting zoo have been EXTREMELY socialized. The majority of the ones that you buy (from anywhere, store or private party) aren't going to be nearly as friendly ... maybe they'll get that way, maybe they won't, but you'd probably be better off finding someone who has had a recent litter and getting babies. Speaking from experience ... guinea pigs bites HURT.

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  2. Carolyn is smiling from ear to ear!

    Can you imagine all the things you can get done while the kids are sitting with their beloved Guinea pigs? RUN - don't walk to Petco this weekend!

    Bribery is a powerful too!

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  3. I had to smile. Joey has been on at me to buy him guinea pigs ever since we visited one of his friend's houses for a play-date and they go to play with their guinea pigs. He is desperate for a pet so much as I am a bit of an animal-hater because of horrible allergies, I have given in and told him if he is VERY good, he can have a goldfish for his birthday in April. I suspect that he will have a whole menagerie of pets when he is older but I can barely manage my life as it is, I don't need to introduce more things to look after into it! :-)
    Guinea pigs ARE cute though so you can see where they are coming from.. just saying... :-)

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  4. This ran in the comics last weekend. I laughed when I read it, because its SO true.

    http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/004296.php

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  5. Yup - you'll probably cave. We went from one little dog, add 3 babies... time for doggie to go, sorry. Then five years later, Oreo joined us, followed by Cocoa the cat (I think we have a food theme here) and now Lucy the birthday puppy has stolen our hearts.

    P.S. Sadly, Cocoa exited... so just Lucy and Oreo. But they are females so maybe I was trying to even out the population here a bit.

    Jo

    www.teensandtriplets.blogspot.com

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  6. I'm sorry. After that last pic, I'm reduced to: awwwww, the widdle cutie-wutie wif his widdle cute paws I just wanna hug and squeeze him he's so cute you should buy FOUR one for each of them!

    Again, sorry. How about those contained environment boxes that have water and a frog and maybe a snail? They seem pretty low maintenance. :)

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  7. This is totally irrelevant to your post, but where did you get those hooded shirts that the girls are wearing? They are really cute!

    Good luck with the guinea pigs....

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  8. Do it, do it! Or at least get a cat-they are probbly easier! I had a guinea pig growing up, but I had every other creature too. I wish I could bring myself to want a dog, but for now we will stick with our 2 cats. Ferrets are super cute and funny too, but probably a lot of work!

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  9. Oh I am so happy that MAYBE you will be getting the children a Pet.
    Especially Carolyn loved Molly and Monty so much and some people just need a pet. I even thought about moving to California and getting a ---ugh---Cat for them to come and visit and play with. (God help me a Cat!)The petting zoo sounded wonderful and I think they need a pet.
    MOM

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  10. I had one GP growing up (and a cat, dog, rabbit, and hampsters) and he seemed fine solo. I played with him everyday. They can be smelly though, and they require a pretty large cage/tank. I'd go for a hampster first. They can be trained to use a "litterbox" (a glass laid on it's side in the cage) so you only really have to clean a small area of the cage. Also, they only live 2 years. If you really want something larger, maybe get a rabbit with an outdoor hutch. I had a rabbit in MA outdoors and while he spent the winters indoors, he LOVED his outdoor hutch. You have nice weather and the rabbit can live outdoors all year round.

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  11. What about chickens? I've got 29 I can give you and you don't have to deduct them from your taxes, cuz you eat em in three weeks.

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  12. Juliana E.3/3/10, 8:45 AM

    My singleton + triplets have been begging for a dog... I just keep saying "Nope, I cannot be responsible for another living creature." My husband cracked up when I read your post to him - "she sounds a lot like you." Good luck on this pet phase - it's tough!

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  13. How sweet! So hard to resist all that.

    Maybe what they really need is a couple of Zhu Zhu pets. ;)

    http://www.amazon.com/Zhu-Pets-Funhouse-Set-Hamster/dp/B002B54KLM

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  14. I feel for all of you, I have always had pets, horses etc, and love them. I can see why you wouldn't anything extra to deal with. Guinea pigs are really neat, don't feed them celery we had one that choked and died while the celery strings were stuck, just and FYI. Otherwise theya re neat. Maybe they will forget, or maybe you can get your oil changed, great idea!

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  15. I'm laughing at your twitter comments regarding school paperwork. It NEVER ends. Just wait until they actually start! A friend of mine who is a teacher said they estimated 20-30 minutes PER CHILD for back to school paperwork each year. And then they bring home field trip forms, picture orders, fundraiser programs, after school activities... the list goes on and on.

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  16. We had guinea pigs..squeak SQUEAK SQUEAK!!! Ugh. The bites hurt a lot and the guaranteed two girl pigs - became about 5 pigs really quickly. Turns out they were pregnant when they arrived. They seemed nocturnal, too.

    Now a cat, on the other hand, lovely! Independent, soft, cuddly...

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  17. I was not allowed pets growing up. I had horrid allergies and my parents had twins after me, so same thought process as you. If he couldn't fix his own dinner, clean out his own cage, and not bite anyone else, we probably weren't going to have it. We had enough dependent, dirty, biting creatures under one roof as it was.

    Sooo...

    When I became an adult, I had TONS of animals. Between my college roomie and I: three cats, two ferrets, two teddy bear hamsters, a guinea pig, and one hedgehog. We had a ZOO in our apartment and loved it!

    But then one day I got married and had two little ones. Our one indoor cat and two outdoor dogs is enough to send me over the edge sometimes. We will NEVER have more than three animals (preferably a lower number) ever again. It drives me nuts to take care of 6 other living beings (children/pets/husband) besides/before myself on most days.

    I'm not an awful human being. I just know my limits. And I think that's a good thing.

    (Also to confirm what the first poster said...guinea pigs at petting zoos are incredibly socialized and yours will not be like that. Also, their bites DO hurt like HELL!)

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  18. Oh that melts my heart! I also love guinea pigs! What a fun thing that you take your kids to places like that! They are all so sweet :)

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  19. Choose a pet wisely. Cats are easy but there is the litter box to deal with and where do you put it! In our small house it was in the kitchen. yuck.

    We had guinea pigs growing up and I can tell you from experience that you HAVE to clean that cage a couple times a week or it stinks to high heaven. You might be able to build a hutch or something for them outside since you're in Cali.

    No matter how much a kid wants a pet the "newness" always wears off and then you're hollering at them about who isn't cleaning the cage. Not to be negative. I'm in the "I've got enough on my plate" camp when it comes to pets right now!

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  20. Just to take you to the end of this "pet story" I want to make sure you know the guinea pig is going to die one day. This may sound awful but I too caved and bought my son one. It was cute and very social but the smell was bad, the cage needs to be cleaned often and when that thing died it was devastating! They only live a few years and most people do not take rodents to the vet (unless they want to pay a lot of money just to hear "it's dying"). It was agonizing watching the poor thing fade away. I won't do it again just because I cannot go through that again. At least with a cat or a dog you can put it down when the end comes. My friend is going through the same thing with her hamster right now. Maybe you can find some stuffed animals that look like guinea pigs? Just a thought...
    Kim

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  21. You take the most wonderful pictures! I think the one of the horse (the very first one) is just awesome.

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  22. You know, you can train a rabbit to be a house pet and to use the litter box! My friend had one that was free to roam the house- basically a big long eared jumping cat! I always thought the idea was pretty cool :)

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  23. My MIL sent me an article awhile back talking about what great pets guinea pigs make...they are supposedly very social and will eventually respond to their names, etc...that being said my twin boys have a friend who has 2 of them and they do bite and scratch quite a bit. But overall, easier than a dog (no walking!!!no potty training!!!) and you still get the cute/cuddly factor. Love the bribery...get all the mileage you can out of it!

    Kelly(Houston)

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  24. Wow! It looks like everyone had a grand time for sure. I'm so glad I'm allergic to furry creatures. It keeps me out of picking up the droppings that the cuteness of furry creatures would have me wallowing in. :-)

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  25. When I was little, my older brother got a hamster. Her name was Penny and my brother gave here a mowhawk. I thought that was so cool. My sisters and I had two bunnies. I loved them! Good luck holding out on the whole pet thing.

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  26. Oh just get the guinea pig, Jen! Remember, these are childhood memories we're talking about!

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  27. What about an inside cat?

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  28. good lord. now I want a guinea pig or two. i'm a sucker for animals, though, and since seeing bolt and that ridiculously cute hamster in a ball, i've been wanting one more pooping being to take up residence in my house. it's prolly b/c i have half the children you do, and the ones i do have are 3 years apart :-0

    good luck with the decision/acquisition!

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  29. Thanks everyone for your words of wisdom and advice. I'm thinking a rabbit might not be too bad. Especially since we could put it in a hutch outside. But then again, maybe I'll just spare myself the pain of an animal and take them to ZooMars once a month and let them get their fix?

    lesliesenke: the hooded shirts came from LL Bean. I bought them on sale last fall and they were ~$5.00/piece! If you check out the sale portion of their website, you can find some fantastic deals!!

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  30. Jen! How could you *POSSIBLY* look into those little faces, and say no to a guinea pig??? And before I read your whole post, I thought you have to have TWO, so they'd have each other. It would be sad to be all alone, without another guinea pig.

    Think about it - they're LITTLE! Their cage can fit almost anywhere. :) You don't even have to walk them! :D How hard can it be to take care of guinea pigs? It will help teach the kids responsibility! :D

    YEA, guinea pigs! I say get two guinea pigs! :)

    ~Cindy! :)
    ..

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  31. If you get two guinea pigs, make sure you get girls. Two boys will fight together and we all know what a boy and girl will do together.
    Personally, I adore guinea pigs, and I still miss mine that died ten years ago. They are much tidier than rabbits.

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  32. After reading your comment- no rabbits- rabbits need their cages cleaned sooo often. Guinea pigs need it cleaned once a week and you can train them to use a specific corner of the cage- although my family never figured out how to do that.
    We got ours as babies- one from a pet store, one from a private home. The one from a home was much friendlier- the store one was tormented and chased around its cage by kids there.
    If they are held a lot as babies and treated gently they will be as friendly as you could want.

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