Monthly Archives: November 2014

Requiem for a Hamster

I was visiting a preschool the other day, and they were mourning the loss of one of their classroom pets (a fish).  It is always difficult when something like that happens.  For the children, it is hard because they have to deal with the concept of death and process the loss on an emotional level.  For the teacher it is hard, because they have to deal with a dead animal, and conduct a full on investigation to figure out who was responsible (trust me, very few classroom pets die of natural causes!)  When I was a teacher, I had to deal with a lot of dead classroom pets (I will have more to say on this subject in later posts).  I had a group of preschoolers hell bent on destruction and as a result none of our pets lived very long.  We were the only preschool class whose newsletter had an obituary section.  For the most part, when one of our pets met an inglorious end, we would dispose of them properly (usually a flushing) and replace them with a new one.  If we did it smoothly enough, we could pretty much pass off the new one as the old one and life would go on. However if the pet was beloved, or if it met a very “visible” end, we would conduct a funeral to allow the kids to morn and to hopefully guilt the murderer into a confession.  One of our more memorable pets was our hamster Snuggles #6.  He was a survivor, and lived the longest of all our classroom pets (3 whole months!)  I wrote a eulogy for him but never got to deliver it (my director was very uptight!)  I forgot all about it, but my visit to the classroom with the deceased fish the other day reminded me about it and I dug it up (pun only slightly intended).  So here now dear readers is how I would have liked to send  Snuggles #6 off to that hamster wheel in the sky…

Requiem for a Hamster

We are here today to mourn the passing of our beloved hamster Snuggles #6. He was a very nice hamster, a very gentle hamster, and before the “incident” on Tuesday a very live hamster.  We learned a lot about hamsters from Snuggles #6. Lessons such as hamsters have fur, hamsters have claws (Billy learned that one the hard way), hamsters eat seeds, hamsters go to the bathroom (a lot), and of course we learned that hamsters cannot fly (a lesson we should have already learned from Snuggles 1 through 3 and Snuggles #5!)   It was fun watching him run around in his cage, but admittedly less fun spending countless hours searching for him all the times one of you let him out of his cage.  We will always cherish the fond memories of Snuggles #6, like the time one of you fed him a cookie and he ran on his wheel till he passed out, or when he had to be water rescued from the toilet during the unsanctioned experiment to see if hamsters can swim (they cannot).  And who can forget the wonderful sight of Snuggles #6 playing “leap frog” with the hamster from Classroom 2 when they brought her over for a visit.  Snuggles #6 was a fighter (just ask Billy) and lasted for a record three months as our classroom pet.  In the end however he was no match for all of you preschoolers, and of course gravity.  So now we bury our friend Snuggles #6 and return him to the earth till God calls us all home, or until one of you maniacs digs him up and takes him home in your lunch box.

Thanks for reading,

Big Joe 🙂

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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Uncategorized


Dog Tale

They say you can’t con a con man (there is a more colorful version of that saying involving a bull but I want to keep this blog above boards for anyone nice enough to be reading it.)  In my case that is very true.  I am a storyteller, so I deal in fiction all the time. I am very good at re imagining the truth, speaking of things that do not exist, pulling words from thin air, or to put it more bluntly I can lie like a Persian rug.  Be able to “tell stories”, also has given me the ability to tell when others are “telling stories”.  This ability has served me well and for the most part has kept me out of trouble.  It is very hard to lie to me without me picking up on it. As a rule I am hardly ever fooled.  Of course with every rule there is an exception.

His name was Christopher and he was four.  He was one of the the preschoolers I taught in my former teaching life.  He was always the last child to be picked up, and with me working the end of the day shift, he and I spent a lot of time together.  It was kind of cool having one on one time, because we got to hang out and do things without all the the other kids pulling me in a million different directions.

Chris was a very chilled out kid, so for the most part we would sit at a table and draw, or play with play-dough, or build stuff with Legos (by the way getting to play with Legos was one of my top 3 three reasons for wanting to be a preschool teacher!)  As we hung out, we would talk about different subjects like cartoons, or dinosaurs, or superheroes. It was fun, but also a little disconcerting when I realized I had a lot of the same interests as a four year old.

One of Chris’ favorite things to talk about was his dog Lance. He loved that dog, and told me all about him.  Every day he would tell me about a cute thing that Lance did or a funny anecdote about him. He talked about him playing in the yard with Lance, giving him a bath, teaching him to fetch, and a whole host of other things relating to a boy and his dog.

For a couple of days one week, Chris and I chatted but he didn’t mention Lance at all.  On the third day, I became a little curious and a bit concerned, so I gently asked how Lance was.  Chris looked up at me with very sad eyes and told me that Lance was very sick. He said they had taken him to the vet and he may have to have an operation.  Having lost a dog recently myself, I knew what he was going through, so I comforted him and told him things would be okay.

When his mom came to pick him up, I pulled her aside and told her that Chris was a bit upset and told her I felt bad that their dog was sick.  She looked at me completely baffled and uttered a very drawn out “Whaaat?”  In that moment, I realized I was lied to, and felt kind of silly.  I said “Wait a minute, your dog isn’t really sick is he?”  She smiled and said “No, but that’s just because we don’t have a dog!” For the first time in a long long while I was rendered speechless. Chris’ mom had a good laugh about the whole thing, and all I could do was shake my head. As I watched her and “Keyser Soze Jr” leave the classroom I realized you can con a con man, and sometimes all it takes is a four year old with a very active imagination 🙂

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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized