Nathan, our 11 year old son, for two out of the past three years of school has had rats in the classroom. I have observed and heard how much he liked the rats and how cute they were. Something akin to a motherly instinct would come out when he talked about them.
We have been struggling with him and his behavior lately. Nothing really new for us as parents, but just an emerging awareness that he needed to step up in his responsibilities. We wanted him to see what needed to be done and do it before being asked. We wanted him to follow through with tasks. Surely this goes on in other houses other than mine!
In the midst of these parenting struggles, I happened to be at the mall in the pet store. I was roaming around the store with my friend's kids. We first stopped at the rabbits to pet them. I thought about how my husband raised rabbits when he was a boy. I remembered him telling me stories of getting up really early in the morning before school to feed the rabbits and how much responsibility it had taught him. I started to think about our own son. Rabbits were out due to allergies. I began to think about the rats that Nathan had had in his classrooms. The more I thought about it the more I began to wonder if taking care of something other than himself would teach him responsibility and would be something he would enjoy. I began to look around the store. How much was a cage, food, an exercise wheel, etc. I went home with this seed of an idea in my head not really planning on sharing it with anyone, at least not yet.
I had not said a word to anyone about my idea. Nathan came home that same day after school and shares that the mommy rat and the daddy rat in his classroom had 14 rat babies. He said that his teacher was asking if anyone wanted a rat to keep as a pet. I stood there almost in shock. I told him about my day at the pet store, and he was amazed. Had God prepared my heart to grow this child of mine with this experience in some way? I couldn't help but think this was a God thing.
Well, we agreed to the rat. We came up with a written contract which Mom, Dad, & Nathan signed which stated what his financial part would be when buying items for the rat. Mom and Dad agreed to buy the food, but he would contribute $5 for any other item purchased for the rat such as an exercise ball or a cage. He would clean out the cage every weekend and give Charlotte fresh food and water.
|Nathan holding his new pet rat, Charlotte|
|It's hard to keep a straight face when your neck is being tickled!|
|Ahh, there is the tickled giggle!|