Let me just say, YOU SHOULD READ THIS ONE if you read no other post of mine. I know it's kinda long. But please?
This is Chibbikins.
On Saturday, Sophia received a birthday card with a Walmart gift card in it, from her paternal grandfather and s-grandmother. As children are wont to do, she went a little berserkazoid trying to figure out what to spend her birthday money on. I mean, she was on her tablet saying, "Okay, Google. What can I get for $25 at Walmart?" Finding things like big packs of socks and underwear were unsatisfactory.
She thought about buying a pool with her money, but when I informed her it was too big to fit in the backyard, we had to abandon that short-lived idea.
We virtually walked all the aisles of Walmart.com and systematically rejected every idea there. She debated about a papasan chair - or a beanbag one - for a while, but nay. I don't know why. #BecauseSophia.
Finally, I decided to give her the cash in exchange for the card. Hell, I can always buy groceries.
The first thing she did was try to convince me to let her get a ferret.
Um, no. One, because she didn't have enough money. Two, we already had six pets (four cats and two dogs, thank you, and don't forget the occasional lizard or froggy who manages to get inside the house), and that is quite enough. Three, because ferrets are stinky, and I don't want to deal with that right now when staying on top of three litter boxes is already enough to drive me crazy.
The second thing Sophia wanted was to go to Robek's. I don't know if you've got a Robek's near you, but it's all healthy crunchy granola smoothies and bowls and other vegetarian goodness, which we love. Sophia loves to get a Polar Pineapple from there, and since I had a few bucks' worth of reward dollars from the app on my phone, we headed right over there and got her a PP. YUM!
I finally agreed to take Sophie to the local more-holistic-than-many pet store, and I said I would let her get a hamster. Or a gerbil. Whichever, as long as it was small and cute and fuzzy - long tail or no.
And so, we went to said pet store, and immediately, she said, "THAT ONE!"
We got a cage. We got a rolley-ball thing. We loaded up on bedding, food, treats, and wood-chewy thingies. I wanted more, but she was past her birthday money total. Note who wanted more!
And all the way home, I kept saying, "How do I let you talk me into these things? Yes, he's cute!"
That first night, Chibbi was the nonstop talk of our brood.
And he had unceasing attention from Paco (the Chihuahua). Less so, Otto the German Shepherd; more so, Muffin and Pepper and Henry and Sugarplum. The cats.
Oh, my gosh. I thought I would never sleep again. That cage got knocked off its place of honor (which would be my craft table, which Sophia unceremoniously cleared off in order to make room for Chibbikins' cage... #BecauseSophia) more times than I can count.
And then, Jack, my kid with the one-track mind, had a new-found fervent desire for a gerbil of his own.
A boy gerbil, so they don't mate.
A girl gerbil so they don't fight.
A boy! A girl! A boy! I don't know!
Either way, he had to do chores to earn this gerbil, and I meant it.
He did dishes. More dishes, and more dishes. (We go through a lot of dishes in this place.) He did laundry. And more, and more. (Second verse, same as the first.)
He swept the floors.
He walked the dogs.
He cleaned my bathroom. Listen, this kid Wanted. A. Gerbil.
He took a butter knife and cleaned the gunk off various tiles throughout our home.
I'm serious, y'all. Jack was relentless in his quest - and I didn't overpay him for anything, because I was in no hurry to add Gerbil #2!
He cleaned the whole foyer area, which was, eh, atrociously built-up with daily deposits from five people too lazy to put shit where it belongs.
He vacuumed the three air purifiers we have.
Finally, at six p.m. Tuesday, Jack had enough money to go get a gerbil.
Awesome. Fantastic. Let's GO. This kid had earned himself a gerbil, and now Mom was onboard with him getting one. And we already had a second cage for her - a girl, it was decided, was the gerbil for him - but that's a story for another day.
For heaven's sake, do you know how hard it is to find a female gerbil in this town when you are on a deadline? The stores all close at 9 PM in Homestead, I swear, and it was imperative to me that I not let this hardworking kid down!
We went to the more-holistic pet store. One male gerbil. Nope, no thank you, next!
We went to Petco, where the pets go, but where I try not to go because (text omitted to avoid being sued). No gerbils. And they would have been $10 more if they even did have them. Pffft.
There were tears and lip quivers. Jack was upset, too!
And now, I was on a serious mission. It was after 7 PM. I had other errands to run, too! One of them was right next door, so while we raced over there, I called Robert and barked orders which were essentially thus: "Call every pet store from here to kingdom come and find out if they have a girl gerbil. And how much. And what time they close, if they do." He knew better than to argue with me and basically said, "Okay. Bye!"
I'll spare you the details... okay, no I won't, #BecauseMelanie. Hey, I can be a hashtag, too!
Here's what happened: However many calls in, Rob found a PetSmart in Kendall, 32 minutes away by the fastest route on Google Maps, with THREE female gerbils. I was there while he was on the phone with them. I was coaching him in the background: "What time do they close? (9 PM) How much are they? ($10.99) Have them hold one! (They have three.)
Gentlemen, when your wife tells you to send out the gerbil alert and have them HOLD A GERBIL, you ask them to hold a freakin' gerbil, m'kay?
Rob felt assured that since they had three girls, we'd be arrright.
Chloë, Jack and I jumped back in the car. (Chloë was coming along for funsies. She wants a guinea pig. Sure, kid, but that'll be a hundred bucks minimum for critter and accoutrement and will have to wait awhile longer.)
When we got to PetSmart in Kendall, we rushed inside and skidded around looking for the Small Animals department.
My heart stopped, people. I don't mean it figuratively. I mean it literally. My heart actually stopped. My jaw dropped to the floor (figuratively that time; I'm not a freakin' snake). I think I said something exclamatory and possibly language-y, but God knows what.
Jack was crushed. Absolutely crushed. We looked at all the cages. Mouse. Rat. Hamster. Mouse. Some other thing. MOUSE! But no Gerbils. "Maybe I'll just get a mouse."
"Maybe a hamster..."
"Hang on, Jack. Just... hang on. Let me find someone."
I found someone, two rows over. "Do you work in the Small Animals department?" "Well, kind of." "Good enough." I explained the situation. I remember saying, "I'm pissed right now!" He hesitated, looked at my determined jaw, and said, "Let me check in New Arrivals in the back."
I started calling Robert to give him the what-for about not having a gerbil held. A girl gerbil. I hung up right when he answered, because Semi-Small Animals Gent returned and said, "We have two in the back. I don't know what the sexes are. Follow me."
I think that is when my heart finally started beating again, you guys.
It turns out, the Definitely-Small Animals Young Lady who took my husband's call had a guy come in and say, "I'm here for a gerbil." Since Rob never gave his name or had one held, she assumed this was the guy from the phone! So, she got him his gerbil.
How we got lucky and had her decide, hmm, maybe not, and take the other two little gerbil girlies to the back must have been Divine Intervention, I dunno, but she did.
I was just about to point to one gerbil and say, "That one's cute!" when Jack pointed to the other one. "THAT ONE!"
And so, we had miss Lucy.
Before we left the store - and I brought Definitely-Small Animals Young Lady in on the act just in case Rob called back - I called him back. I said they had no gerbils and no, I did not read him the riot act. I just said I was pissed and Jack was very upset. I might have hung up on him, but I promise, honey, this time, I didn't do it on purpose!
We got Lucy in her little travel-home box and, well, we traveled home! Jack talked nonstop about her. I could tell he was happy. I was happy. Chloë was happy. It was a much faster trip home than the agonizingly-long half-hour drive to Kendall.
I walked in the door first and said hello to Rob, who was waiting on the couch. "I'm sorry," he began.
Chloë walked in and just ... pretended to be a grouchy teenager.
Jack walked in with his box, his uncontrollably giant smile, and shouted, "SURPRISE! I GOT A RAT INSTEAD!"
Rob asked, "What? You got a rat? Let me see it!" and lo, and behold, it was a gerbil.
A girl gerbil. Named Lucy.
And he was not mad at me. Behold, he was very glad. #BecauseJack