May 21, 2006

The Terrible True Story of What Happened on Mother's Day

OIL UP YOUR PITY GLANDS, Oh My Best Beloveds, and prepare them to secrete great glutinous streams of sorrow upon my pitiful behalf...READY? Okay!

Sometimes when I am blogging, I get all fired ahead of myself and scribble-scrabble out several entries at once. Or if something is too long I will cut it in twain and post half one day and the other half the next. I had several entries BACKED UP waiting to post as Mother's Day approached, and so I caught up by posting them while I experienced what will NO DOUBT go down in record as the world's worst Mother's Day since Hallmark came up with the concept to increase their schlumpy May sales figures.

Let me set the scene for you.
1) Scott has left town for over a week. I am a single, Scottless parent and therefore I respond to stimili as if I have a 37% higher Mental Illness Number than my median average for spring.

2) The day before Mother's day, my son has a hideous but mercifully short-lived romance with a stomach virus. I am up all night, and by dawn, the virus has ditched him and taken up a passionate new interaction with me. In between calling for death, I am haunted by the knowledge that I will never sleep again, as Maisy is cuter than me, and Stomach Flu will no doubt leave me and take up with her.

By late afternoon, I am wrung out and sad, but stable. I am waiting for Maisy to begin being sick (and I will tell you, Best Beloveds, that she did INDEED oblige me....) and I am sitting hunched with misery in front of my computer, feebly pecking out a draft of chapter 10.

My son appears in the doorway. As you may recall we ditched our newts back into the pond from whence they came and replaced them with two charming gerbils named Snickers and Hotshot, and I was worried the massive cat might via means miraculous manage to defy the laws of gravity and physics and lumber up to the top of the counter and vivisect them. It would take a miracle, because this cat is now SO overweight that Dr. Phil is considering doing a Prime Time intervention show starring him, but I am a person of faith and therefore make room in the world for the possibility of miracles. So, I fretted about it a little. Well. Right. SO! Where were we? Sam had just appeared in my office doorway:

Sam: Mom? Remember our gerbils?
Me: *chilled with horror* I remember them, yes. Do you mean that in an "in memorium" way, or...
Sam: What?
Me: Yes, I remember them. Why do you ask?
Sam: I saw the one gerbil, and it was sitting on another gerbil.
Me: *relieved* Sammy, those gerbils are brothers and gerbils are very cuddley with their litter mates. I am sure the sat on gerbil is FINE.
Sam: No I mean. Snickers is sitting on a THIRD gerbil.
Me: Son, I am working here. That's not possible. Gerbils do not spontaneously generate.
Sam: Well, a third gerbil got IN somehow with them.
Me: Do you think maybe it is just sitting on a piece of cardboard he hasn't chewed up yet? And it LOOKS a little gerbil shaped?
Sam: No, I really think it is a third very small gerbil. Or two.
Me: That's not --- wait. What? VERY SMALL???
Sam: I REALLY think you should come look.

WARNING: Brace yourself, Bridget, for a raaaaawther graphic scene.

I head to the cage. Brother Gerbil number one is running in the wheel. FINE. Brother Gerbil number two, however, has about HALF of a FOURTH and VERY NEW gerbil protruding from his netherous gerbil-regions, and is spinning a third moist and yicky looking very new gerbil in his hands, cleaning it.

Sam: There's another one!
Me: That's certainly very....graphic! I think maybe the brothers need some privacy!

We repaired to our friend the internet to see what Very New Gerbils might need to be happy, and what a Brother Gerbil who is apparently recovering from the worlds most complete and successful sexual reassignment surgery EVER might need to be happy. Answer: To have the cage covered by a towel and be left strictly alone in a quiet room. I LOVED THAT ANSWER!

I rechristened the half of the downstairs with the gerbil cage in it "Philadelphia." (Because Philly is the city of....? Right.) No one was allowed to go into Philadelphia for four hours, (I used the enforced quiet to draft more) at which point I tiptoed in and made sure there was fresh water and did a quick count.

Eight. EIGHT. Yes. EIGHT small squirmy jelly beans were cuddled in a heap in a nest the brothers had constructed. Did you hear me say EIGHT? Because I said EIGHT.

The most horrifying thing is NOT that I have ten freakin' gerbils. The most horrifying thing is this: As I was COUNTING the babies, I noticed the brothers were behaving in an EXTREMELY innapropriate and NON-BROTHERLY manner, even if (as I suspect) one of the brothers is NOT a brother at all (and really the evidence is overwhelming at this point). It's not like it's any more appropriate to engage in such overly friendly STACKING behavior with one's sister, but take out that aspect even and it is HUGELY innapropriate to put the moves on a lady who JUST gave birth. EIGHT times. And yet. They were undeniably engaged thusly, and both seemed quite happy about it, and as a BONUS to their happiness, they were making STILL AND YET more gerbils. SO I have ten gerbils NOW, and an infinite number of POTENTIAL gerbils already baking.

And yes, it IS horrifying....and yet. THEY ARE SO CUTE! THEY ARE SO CUTE! They are now big enough to begin being socialized for people, which means we have to take them out and give them POSITIVE HAND TIME each day, and I have to tell you, they are made of velveteen and are so DEAR and BUSY and VITAL and MIGHTY and WEE. They lift my heart, these little very new unwanted wretched gerbils. I don't know how we will break the cycle of incestuous Deliverance gerbil love we seem to have going here because the internet says we cannot REMOVE the father gerbil when there is a new litter because the mother needs his help, and they make a new litter within 2 hours of delivering the LAST litter. Bit of a Catch 22.

We are working on a plan to break the cycle, I think involving removing the father and all MALE BABIES to one cage, ALL UP FOR ADOPTION, and then moving the weaned females to another cage and putting THEM all up for adoption too, and leaving the pregnant mother in the original cage with ONE weaned daughter gerbil as a helpmeet. We'll keep those two. It's simply dreadful, and if we mess up the sexing and get ANY male in with ANY female....GAHHHH! We could end up with two-headed poisonous gerbil freaks with flippers. But for NOW....



Posted by joshilyn at May 21, 2006 4:30 PM

OMG! So tiny, so cute!!! Little baby gerbil!!!

Posted by: stephanie at May 21, 2006 5:43 PM

Adorable! And you are hilarious!!

Posted by: Katie at May 21, 2006 6:54 PM

wow, what a fun thing for your kids to, um, witness!! In a disturbing kind of way... yes, you better got those gerbils all sorted out before there are more on the way!

They are cute, though :)

Posted by: Tiff at May 21, 2006 9:50 PM

Don't you love the professional folks at the pet store, who swear on their dogs lives that, nooooo, they are all boys/girls. We check very carefully before we put them all in one cage. ohhh, pregnant! NO, they're just a little chubby. I took mine back to the pet store 2 weeks later,(the babies,that is) handed them back to the 17 yr old professional hampster sexer, and said congratulations, your a daddy, handed him 12 baby hampsters, turned around and left & didn't look back. It felt really good. There would have been 13 but mama got hungry & my 6 yr got to see that. I think that's what made me mad/brave enough to take them back to their rightful owner.

Posted by: desi at May 21, 2006 10:06 PM

And yet all I see are Blog Prizes when you run out of ARCs and Nonny's.

They are cute, though. Good luck with your plan. How do you propose to figure out the gender? If the gerbil picks up a pink bow it can stay --- else it is out of here?

Posted by: Patricia at May 21, 2006 10:10 PM

Nah, the amazing thing is that the Friendly Brothers gave birth to miniature Pit Bull puppies ... just adorable ... years ago we bought a little MALE puppy, who played nicely with the neighbour's dog, and gave us eight surprises ... my Mum was sooooo happy.
God bless,

Posted by: Christine in Los Angeles at May 21, 2006 10:28 PM

I'm sorry, but...RATS! RATS is what they are! I have TRAPS in my basement for things that look mightily like the item this picture shows cuddled up against you! My cat sometimes brings me DEAD items such as these and I PRAISE him for it and give him extra food and allow him to continue living with me for it! Eeew, eew, eew. RATS!
Pretty skirt, though. ;)

Posted by: Amy-GO at May 21, 2006 10:30 PM

Amy-Go, you took the words out of my mouth, right down to the pretty skirt!

Posted by: Cathy at May 21, 2006 10:58 PM

Now...didn't you mean to say that these were the DARLING MANIFESTATIONS of the WONDER of motherhood that graced your special day? Isn't that what you MEANT?

Posted by: Kira at May 22, 2006 12:35 AM

I have to say your children get a real education in your household. But really I don't want to win any non-arc or very cute non-Brother Bobby creatures.

Posted by: Cele at May 22, 2006 1:25 AM


After hearing about hamsters all year from my daughter (they had MULTITUDES in their classroom) I was ready for a more horrifying ending for the baby gerbils. SO glad it was not *that* kind of a Mother's Day!

Posted by: Angel at May 22, 2006 2:10 AM

Um, yeah. So I'm wondering how you are going to decide who is male and who is female what with the steller record of gender assignment so far..?

Posted by: Nic at May 22, 2006 9:46 AM

At the risk of being called the creepy rat lady.... this is why we had pet rats. Very easy to tell the boys from the girls.

Posted by: Laura L at May 22, 2006 10:02 AM

I, too, was braced for a more horrifying ending having had some cannibalistic gerbils as a girl. I'm glad things didn't go that way. It seems like a fairly unsolvable dilemma in terms of repeated breeding -- I vote for bringing them back to the store and letting them deal with it. Or, is it possible to have hamsters neutered?

Posted by: Aimee at May 22, 2006 11:11 AM

GERBILS. Is it possible to have gerbils neutered, is what I meant.

Posted by: aimee at May 22, 2006 11:12 AM

Amy, shame on you!

Baby gerbils are PRECIOUS, cute clean little things!

But what a weekend Joshilyn! :0
Really, can any future mother's days live up to it? ;) xx

Posted by: diane at May 22, 2006 11:25 AM

I had the same thing happen as desi did... bought myself a brand new BOY teddy bear hamster and it turned out that he was a Mommy To Be...

Posted by: Heather Cook at May 22, 2006 12:00 PM

Thank you for making me laugh 'till I cried this morning. I needed that. What a weekend for you, though! How are you going to separate the boys from the girls, anyway?

Posted by: Melessa at May 22, 2006 12:02 PM

Ah, a wee beastie. Whee! Beasties! Very cute.

Posted by: laura at May 22, 2006 1:03 PM

I'll take two. But tell them I'm not paying for the gender reassignment surgery.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at May 22, 2006 3:35 PM

That's a good skirt for masking gerbil tinkle, too!

Posted by: Lydia at May 22, 2006 4:24 PM

RATS, Diane, RATS! ;)

Posted by: Amy-GO at May 22, 2006 6:00 PM

I cried, I laughed. I want a gerbil. But only one.

Posted by: Becki at May 22, 2006 8:01 PM

I would assume gerbils can be ..."fixed", eh? I once had a hamster with breast cancer (no lie) and paid 90 bucks for surgery to remove THAT, so why not ALL reproductive organs on rodents? I mean, makes sense.

Posted by: Janet at May 22, 2006 9:14 PM


Posted by: Heather at May 22, 2006 9:32 PM

Apparently Penn Gilette (of Penn & Teller) and his wife are related to gerbils. From E! News Online:

OH, BABY! Penn Jillette and his wife, Emily setting a second child up for a lifetime of teasing by naming their newly arrived son Zolten Penn. Their daughter, Moxie CrimeFighter, was born last June.

Posted by: hollygee at May 23, 2006 12:31 PM