I opened the school locker so I could leave my daughter’s phone, and there staring at me in a small, clear box was a black rodent! It blinked and closed its eyes. I left the phone and hurried away.
Thoughts raced through my mind. “What does this mean? Why was there a black rodent in my 11-year-old’s locker?”
She’d wanted a hamster for months and finally a few weeks earlier we’d consented and let her have one. I had thought I’d made a huge sacrifice in not only allowing one hamster to live under our roof but three so that each child could have one.
Earlier that week, she’d been telling me how rats were as smart as dogs and could be taught tricks.
“Nope. We are NOT getting a rat for a pet,” I’d said. “No matter how smart they are.”
Now the black creature in her locker.
After I had calmed myself a bit, I called my husband. And we both agreed that she would have to return it wherever she got it from.
I prayed. I knew this was going to be hard, and it was.
After school we drove to the pet shop, but she refused to let go of her animal, which turned out to be a big hamster. She told me that Licorice had become like a child to her and she simply could not part with him.
Hubby called and said that the youngest fessed up. There were two other hamsters and a mouse hiding underneath the bed at home!
The shop assistant told me that a group of girls had come and tried to buy the animals the week before but could not without an adult. Moments later they’d come back with one. When she saw the adult go one way and the girls the other, she knew she’d been had.
The shop took the critters back, and I took one weeping child home. In my heart, I was also crying. I did not want to see my daughter hurting, but I knew it would be wrong for us to let her keep them.
She had managed to keep four rodents right under our nose for an entire week and we had not suspected a thing.
We grounded all three of them for a week with the oldest getting more restrictions. But I wondered about my daughter’s heart … where had we gone wrong? Had I not spent enough time with her? Did we not teach her deceit is wrong? How do I, now, build those bridges and make that connection to her heart?
Then I remembered the day my father caught me smoking Marlboros in my bedroom. How he actually took his belt off and whup me – one of the few times he did. I had hated him for it. After all, I was then 14 years old! It was also the day, he discovered my bright red-orange punk hairdo, which I had managed to keep hidden under a hat for a week.
He told me to go wash my hair, but of course the color did not come out. As I walked downstairs, I saw my father kneeling besides the sofa. He told me we were going to pray.
Reluctantly, I knelt down beside him and what followed startled me. Sobs, deep emotional sobs, were coming from my father as he poured out his heart to God.
My heart was hurting, and I was an angry, confused teen. I vowed that I would never forgive him for spanking me. Still, the incident kept me from smoking in the years to come.
That evening I tucked the younger two in bed but the oldest refused, saying she would never forgive me for taking her animals away. I remembered my father and my knees found the floor.
The next morning after the kids left for school, I went to her bedroom and I did more warfare. I know the enemy is vying for her heart but greater is my God and I know He will move heaven and earth on her behalf just as he did for me.
Pearl Allard says
I wanted to laugh and cry reading this. Funny as an observer; not so funny as the parent! What a beautiful picture of hope that even an imperfect parent can leave a legacy of faith. I’m hanging on to that…
Willena Flewelling says
Oh dear… I’m reading this as a pet lover who remembers her own struggles the first time she asked for a hamster! It wasn’t so much my mom who objected. It was my stepdad, for whom ALL rodents were “mice”, and he was dreadfully afraid of them! But they let me have one… and later, two.
As a mom of 7 who are all grown except one, I know how tough it is to find the line between defiance and a need to be themselves. What would we do without the Holy Spirit as our guide?!! We had to draw the lines for our kids when they were all living at home — or we would have been overrun by pets! I remember when we had a dog, 2 cats, several hamsters in separate cages, and another cage for gerbils!
Thanks for stopping by Willena! You are so right about relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us. 🙂 We have a cat and my youngest is now waiting for the day he will get a dog … siigh … I’m not a pet person at all. But I know we will get through it with God’s help. 🙂