Last night we had to do one of those super crappy things that really makes me sort of hate this parenting gig: we had to give away Iris's hamster, Cheddar.
I don't know how much I ever wrote about Cheddar, so here is a quick background: Iris had wanted a hamster for a pretty long time, so for her seventh birthday a hamster was her only gift from us. Well, technically, the hamster cage and all of the supplies was the gift. We didn't get the hamster until late July, a few weeks after her birthday, because we were gone on a three week vacation after she turned seven.
We found a hamster who loved to be held, who was great with the girls and who was just all around completely adorable. All of us in the family grew to adore him. For reasons which we never figured out, though Iris truly loved Cheddar and was often gentle with him, she treated him very poorly enough of the time that it was getting stressful for all of us-- most especially Cheddar. We tried different things and made rules around how to handle him and talked about it with her until we were blue in the face, but none of it worked. The behavior kept getting worse and worse until one night we were scared he might have been hurt enough that he wouldn't live. That night was the final straw. He needed a safer place to live. We explained our decision to Iris and she seemed a little indifferent and then a little sad.
While I would love to hash out all of my thoughts about why this was happening or what else we could have done, I don't really want to get too much more in to it here. I think it's just one more piece of Iris's complicated picture and while she is a sweet, amazing, loving little girl, sometimes she does things she doesn't really understand, and regrets, but it doesn't stop her from doing them.
It was a tricky situation because although I would have been happy to take care of Cheddar for the rest of his days, we didn't want Iris interacting with him. It didn't seem fair to have him in the house and keep her away from him, though.
We were fortunate to have a dear friend of ours-- Iris's best friend and her mom-- take Cheddar. Although Iris, and Eloise, knew for a few days that Cheddar would eventually be going to a new home, the process of my friend calling and saying they would take him and him going home with them was a matter of a few minutes. Eloise, especially, was incredibly upset. Iris was very sad, as well, but she tends to be a little more stoic about her emotions. I am glad that after the initial heart-breaking sadness about Cheddar leaving wore off neither girl seemed to be acting any different. I don't know what that means-- probably just their own kid way of dealing with it, I suppose.
This whole thing has kind of rattled me a bit, for lots of reasons. I don't know why Iris acted towards him the way she did. I don't know if or when we can get another pet. I don't know why I miss that darn hamster so much.