Thursday, March 14, 2013

LIVING AMONG HAMSTERS (A story for kids)

When I chew on my wooden ruler, my teacher takes it away.

My mom won’t let me sleep all day and stay up all night.

When I try to stuff my peanut butter and jelly sandwich into my cheeks to save it for snack time, the lunch room monitor says I’m being rude and gross.

I guess I shouldn’t expect them to understand. For unlike me, they have never lived among the hamsters.

It all began as a science project.

Other kids were making baking soda and vinegar volcanoes or soaking teeth in coke, but I wanted to do something different.

Inspiration came from a TV special about a woman who lived for years with chimpanzees. She studied up close their habits, habitats and relationships.

Maybe this was something I could do. I couldn’t go to Africa, but perhaps there were animals that lived closer. Much closer.

In my room I have a cage with two hamsters I named Door Knob and Nasal Drip. A science report on living with hamsters would be the best project ever.

But first I had to build a machine that would shrink me down to hamster size; which I did.

(Some of you are thinking, “Why didn’t you use the shrinking machine as your science project?” And I ask you, “Can you imagine if one of your classmates got hold of a shrinking machine?” No one would be safe.)

After shrinking myself down to precisely hamster size, I joined Door Knob and Nasal Drip in their cage.

I climbed in through the top of the cage and dropped into the wood shavings. Doory and Nasally (their nicknames) scurried into the hamster box.

I turned my back on the hamsters and sat quietly in the sawdust.

After waiting an hour, I heard footsteps behind me. I expected that. I didn’t expect to hear voices.

“Isn’t that Jose? The boy who gives us food?”

“It can’t be. He is far too small.”

I thought other people had entered the room. I turned to find out something else.

“Door Knob! Nasal Drip! You talk!”

“I told you it was Jose,” Door Knob said.

“But how can you be so small?” Nasal Drip asked.

“But how can you talk?” I asked.

“But how can you be so small?”

We kept asking those same questions to each other several more times. Eventually, I explained the shrinking machine to the hamsters. (And no, I’m not explaining it to you. I don’t want to be responsible for making your little sister a lot littler.)

And they told me that they did indeed speak. But usually they never spoke around humans. And since hamsters have really good hearing, they usually speak so softly that only other hamsters can hear them.

I asked if I could live with them for a while so I could observe life as a hamster. For science. They agreed, but with three conditions.

The first condition was a name change. They were not pleased with the names I had given them.

“Instead of Door Knob, I would prefer to be called Renaldo,” Door…I mean, Renaldo said.

“And I would prefer to be called Juliet,” formerly Nasal Drip said.

“You’re a girl?”

“Female hamster,” she said. I had no idea.

The second condition was peanut butter for two weeks after the study.

The third condition was that I would tell no one that the hamsters could talk, which I’m not sticking to as well as I’ve stuck to the first two conditions.

So I began my study.

I noticed that Renaldo and Juliet often gnawed on their wooden house. I asked them why.

They said that hamster incisor teeth will keep growing unless they gnaw on things. (Isn’t it cool to imagine a hamster that didn’t gnaw – so his teeth were, like, surf board length?)

I observed that hamsters liked to dig tunnels and build little rooms. They liked to have a separate dining room and a separate bed room.

Their mouths can open, like, cool large so they can carry lots of food or lots of bedding in their mouths. (Wouldn’t it be something if you carry a sleeping bag in your mouth?)

They can’t see very well, so you can hold up the three D loser sign to your head, and they never notice. But like I said before, they have really good hearing.

They also have a really good sense of smell, which means they can smell other hamsters real well – which I just can’t see as a good thing.

And I found out they really enjoy their hamster wheel. I was able to run on all fours on the outside of the wheel, which impressed them.

It was then time to return to my world, but before I left, Renaldo had exciting news. “Soon, Jose, there will be hamsters in the world.”

“Does that mean?”

“Yes, Jose,” said Juliet. “And we want the first of our litter to be named after you.”

And so my time with the hamsters came to an end.

I wroter up my study, and turned it in as my science project.

The teacher gave my study a D-, because she thought I had just made the whole thing up.

Well, let me tell you, I have lived with hamsters, and no hamster would ever give another hamster a D-. I’m thinking of going back. Because that wheel is pretty fun.

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