Understandably, it may not be a great idea to get a pet for a 21 month old. I have a feeling that I am never going to be that mom who says no when my child wants a kitten or brings home a lizard that he/she found on the way home from school. I’m not going to have a crazy zoo in my home, by any means, but as long as we have the room and all animals are cared for, I am going to allow it. In many ways, I am still the 10-year-old girl who wants to bring every stray dog home. There are so many moms, mine included, that dread the idea of a new pet. I have to wonder, were they always like this? or is there is a certain age that you become this way?
Hopefully, I will never reach that age or mindset. This is a similar mindset that adults display whilst disciplining a child. When my children ask why they can’t do something, I will always explain to them the reason. If anyone ever hears me say “because I said so”, I give you full permission to kick my ass. Children will never listen to you if you don’t give a rational explanation, they will simply assume that you are just a mean parent. I have worked at a number of after school programs with children K-6 grade. I was always placed with the 5th and 6th graders because the other instructors couldn’t deal with them. Something amazing happened, they listened to me and favored me out of every other adult in the program. Why? because I talked to them like they were my age. A 12-year-old might be considered a child, but they don’t think that way anymore, so you shouldn’t talk to a 12-year-old the way you would talk to a 7-year-old.
Back to my mouse story. After my friend bought his 2-year-old a hamster, I was suddenly stricken with the need to get my son something small and furry too. When I told my mother my plan to go to the pet store and get my son a hamster, her response was “you don’t want to get him a hamster.” This is something that comes up quite often with my mother, I rarely agree with her basic opinions on most things and yet she insists that she knows what I want. ” You don’t want to work full-time”, “you don’t want to move to LA”, “you don’t want to go back to work and leave your babies at home with a sitter all day”. My mother and I are very different people, but as sure as shit, she continues to assume she knows what I want to do. This also occurred when I was a child and she would give my brother a healthy helping of cottage cheese on his dinner plate and bring me my overcooked steak sans a side of cottage cheese. When I would ask her why I didn’t get any, her response was always “you don’t like cottage cheese”. This would occur on a regular basis.
So to the pet store we went. My son looked at all the furry creatures with pure wonder and I was so excited to see that sweet smile adorn his pale little face. After taking a gander at reptiles and fish too, I decided it was decision time. Although a hamster was tempting, I decided against it only because those suckers love to bite. I have had many hamsters in my life and have been bitten by every single one. They are just too skittish. Adorable, yes, but too crazy for a toddler. I decided upon a good-natured mouse. I have also had mice before, and felt they were a better fit.
Once I set up the cage and let my son see the mouse, he was ecstatic. You never know how toddlers are going to react to animals. Years ago, I let my 3-year-old cousin hold my mouse and after holding it for a second, she threw it against the wall. The mouse was fine, just a little dazed. My boy was eager to hold Angelina(After the cartoon ballerina, not Jolie). He picked her up and squeezed her. I immediately took her from him and decided perhaps he was not ready. My son is a sweet and gentle kid but I don’t want him to go all Lennie on that poor little mouse.
I’m not regretting the purchase of our new pet, I am actually quite happy with her. But I am also someone who loves rodents, and she is quite cute. So if you do decide to get your toddler a pet, I highly suggest it is one that you, yourself, may have gotten on your own. To think, my mother was happy with a pet rock when she was a kid. This may explain her inability to listen to others. Yes, I am still upset I didn’t get any damn cottage cheese.