I’m writing this letter to you in the middle of the summer. You are almost 8 1/2 and growing like a weed. Last night, even with a healthy snack or two and a full dinner including some of my soup followed by dessert after, you were still hungry. I swear I can’t feed you fast enough and I get the feeling that this is how things will be from here on out.
This is also the summer you got your first pets. After months of reading and prepping for it, we brought home two baby girl rats. And, you were beside yourself with glee.
We named them Twinkletoes and Mia. Twinkletoes was white with a grey face and Mia was the same but with a brown face. The girls were terrified the moment we put them in their cage. They huddled together in the corner just shivering with fear. Poor babies…
But that didn’t stop you from loving them. The day after they came home you were up before the dawn to spend time reading to them. I could hear you quietly sharing your book and lovingly reading the story of some helpful penguins. But that wasn’t enough, you had to hold them. And try you did! You reached in without fear and held onto Twinkletoes with so much patience and grace. She wasn’t having any of it and not long after you can into my room in a panic to tell me she had gotten loose.
It didn’t matter. Your dad and I got her back in her cage and we calmed you down. You were so concerned and afraid for her but you wanted so badly to just hold her tight, to cuddle with her and to let her know she was loved. We planned to let them settle for a bit and not to force them out of their corner. You had other ideas…
That little moment of panic didn’t stop you because you were determined to gain the girls’ trust. We spent time at the library pulling up books and you’d show me that we did, in fact, need to spend time holding the girls each day, even if they were scared. We needed to show them we could be trusted and that we didn’t mean them any harm. So I went with it. You presented such a strong case backed up with information you had researched that I couldn’t say no. Together we carefully reached in a pulled the girls out. Then, you cuddled and held your girls when they would let you and whispered sweet words of comfort to them and they listened. With you, they seemed at peace.
And when they weren’t in your arms or hearing a story read to them, I found your nose deep in a book about rats and the best ways to care for them. You were like a sponge, soaking up everything bit of information to make you the best rat caretaker ever. It had become your mission in life to care for your girls as best as you could.
It’ll be interesting to hear you relive these days when you are grown. To hear what you thought and what your memories of these first pets were like. How you perceived yourself in this time, if you saw what we did. If you saw yourself as a dedicated friend to these four legged sweethearts. If you saw yourself grow both in spirit and heart as you learned to care for something smaller than you.
Son, I saw this happening before my eyes. In those first few days with the girls you aged and matured so quickly. I saw you go from the boy who had to have the last word in EVERY argument to the boy who thought of his pets first. They were the first things you checked on when we got home, they were your first thoughts in the morning, and you were always thinking of new ways to engage them and play with them.
It felt like overnight you went from a boy to a young man. You had a purpose and it was to love and care for your girls.
I hope when you look back on these times that it is with love and positive memories of a time when you were very happy.