Our first 24 hours flying solo with Jodi away for a conference seemed to encapsulate the joys and trials of parenting pretty well. A few weeks ago, I noticed a tweet from the Mass. Public Health Association indicating it was “Public Health Day” at Fenway Park, and they had good group ticket rates available. We’re focusing more on health at Social Capital Inc. these days, so it seemed like a good thing to participate in. Of course, it doesn’t take too much convincing to get me to go the see the Red Sox! I consulted my calendar and noted that the game coincided with the day Jodi was heading for San Antonio. What better activity for the “boys” time then heading to a Sox game?
As much as the three of us enjoy our family time together, doing special things one on one with our lad seems pretty important. Pulling B. a bit early from school to head to Fenway had all the makings of that! We headed for the MBTA station, conveniently located next to a Starbucks, where my lad eagerly placed his regular order–tall Lemonade, no ice, 3 pumps of sweetener.
It’s great just to be anywhere in Fenway, but as we ascended to our right field bleacher seats just a few rows from the back wall, I could see why they could be had for $10 in early April! Long way from the action but a nice view of the new 2013 World Series Champions banner! As we were heading back to our seats with snacks early in the game, we heard our name called out and quickly spotted the fellow Woburnites who were also enjoying the game. They indicated some open seats near them which we eagerly grabbed to get a better view.
Now, before I get on to the fun end to the game, let me note that sitting through a 1 to 1 baseball game doesn’t come easy to an 8 year old digital native. Especially seeing as we were still a bit far away to observe the nuances of the pitchers’ duel. Fortunately, I fended off a number of mid-game “When can we go?” inquiries and convinced him to stay. The ending seemed to pick up where the 2013 Red Sox left off. Down 2 to 1 in the bottom of the 8th, they had two runners aboard when David Ortiz, a.k.a. Big Papi, hit a monstrous blast way over the right field foul pole. High fives all around the bleachers as Big Papi touched’em all, and more high fives when the home run withstood the scrutiny of the new replay system (not a fan of that BTW). We then had a great view for the amazing closer Koji Uehara quickly getting ready prior to trotting in and ending things with his usual efficiency. I believe he got the 3 outs faster than it took to play the Sox winning anthem, “Love that Dirty Water.”
But any parent reading this knows parenting is not all fun and games. I was quickly reminded of this the morning after our Fenway trip. As he was getting food for the puppies, B. started looking concerned. “How do you know the difference between a dead hamster and a hamster playing dead?” Not a question you want to hear! Unfortunately, our hamster wasn’t playing.
Our family is new to the pet scene, in part because of our various allergies, plus I’ve never been enthused about having pets. But Jodi and B were eager to have a pet. One hamster became two, and then we got a pair of puppies last fall. I figured I’d be a good sport about it, provided they team up to do the work of taking care of them. I felt my plate was pretty full with cooking and other household tasks.
Pet person or not, the hamster burial couldn’t wait for Jodi’s return. We figured learning to care for a pet offered some good life lessons for B, and dealing with death is clearly part of that. This being the first death of a pet for us, I turned to some Googling for advice. I gleaned some practical tips on hamster burial, and browsed for some ideas about prayers for pets. We were ready for the task.
There’s more emotional attachment to the puppies at this point, which probably made the hamster passing a bit easier for B to deal with. He wasn’t showing a lot of emotion when we first figured out what had happened, but it was a bit hard to read how he was feeling about it. I wanted to follow his cues on how much he wanted to be part of the process. He expressed interest in being involved in everything except actually touching the dead hamster, but he did hold the box open for me to place her in. I figure it was good for him to actually see her going into the box we were burying, in terms of closure.
Practical note here in case you’ve come across this post Googling for how to deal with a hamster burial: placing the hamster in a small box was recommended, as was trying to dig a fairly deep hole and covering it with rocks, to prevent birds and animals from getting at it. We landed on an empty box of chamomile tea that was in the recycling, it had a nice picture of a cozy home and flowers on it, so didn’t require too much decorating. B. wrote the hamsters name on it and a few other words for it.
I had a someone more in-depth prayer in mind, but as we placed our hamster in the ground, I could feel we were both touched by what we were doing. I kept the prayer short and sweet. B added “Amen. Let the force be with you.” I thought that was a pretty cool touch!
My parenting takeaways from these two events? We’ve got to grab our chances to have a special day with our kids, as I did when I saw the Fenway tickets in my Twitter feed. Everyone I know with grown kids always talks about how fast they grow, and I certainly believe it seeing how fast B has gotten to age 8. Have the fun when we can, and then when a curveball is thrown, be ready to seize that moment too. Though officiating a hamster burial was in many ways not something I relished, it too provided an important experience for B and I to have together. May the force be with you, too, in all your parenting endeavors!