Thursday, May 6, 2010
May as well teach em young........
Along with everything else they're responsible for, it seems that Elementary school teachers are also determined to expose our children to a fact of life.....death. How else could you explain their obsession with classroom pets?
A classroom pet is a tragedy waiting to happen. There's no way around it. It's not like they can choose an animal like a dog or a cat because that's unrealistic. So their only options are pets with the shortest life expectancy rates. ie; hamsters, birds, fish, or the dreaded guinea pig.
Here's the scenario. Buy a small caged rodent. Expose defenseless caged rodent to thirty small children with dirty fingers and loud voices Monday through Friday for nine months. What about the weekends, you ask? Well, we'll just let the small children take turns taking it home! What could possibly go wrong?
It was 2002 and it was toward the end of Z's second grade year. The classroom pet was an albino long haired guinea pig named Snowball who, despite the odds, had managed to stay alive until April. We had a black lab named Sadie. (See where this is going yet?) Let's just say that Snowball didn't even survive three hours at our house. My first reaction was to find a secret replacement. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a long haired albino guinea pig on short notice?!? I had no choice but to call the teacher at home. (To be honest, I waited until Saturday to give the impression that he at least made it one night in our home.) She was very sympathetic and understanding. Then she requested that I bring in his body Monday morning so that they could have a classroom funeral....um, about that....Crap. I was really hoping to avoid revealing the cause of death but she wants the body?!? I couldn't very well send in the few chunks that were left of Snowball, now could I? They're second graders, not Anatomy students. After a long awkward pause, I explained that there wasn't a whole lot left to send in and what was left could do some psychological damage. She decided that the best option was to tell the class on Monday morning and have a memorial service, sans the viewing. Thankfully that only left six weeks of Z being referred to as 'the kid who killed our classroom guinea pig' and then they had all summer to forget. The following year when A asked if she could bring home the classroom fish for spring break we answered with a unanimous "NO!" (We had cats, people.)
It's been eight years. K is in the fourth grade. Classroom pet of choice....hamster. (This hasn't been a good year for classroom pets at our school. The guinea pig in the high school science lab didn't survive the winter.....who knew there would be so many consecutive snow days in the month of February? Ooops.) But back to K's class hamster. They got him in September and named him Snickers. Her first question was if she could please sign up to bring Snickers home one weekend. We finally caved and told her if Snickers was still around in May, that she could take a turn. (What were the odds of it surviving the whole year, right?)
Well, it didn't. It seems that Snickers #1 was "really smart" and could open the cage and escaped during his first home visit over Labor Day weekend and was never seen or heard from again. (I suspect cat, but whatever.) Oddly enough, Snickers #2 through #5 were also "super smart" and they ended with the same fate as Snickers #1 by Christmas break. Several more attempts, a new cage, and a new name seemed to do the trick and tomorrow afternoon we'll be responsible for keeping 'Hershey #2' alive until Monday morning. At least it won't be a shock to the kids if 'Hershey #2' doesn't live to see Mother's Day....as a matter of fact, it will be more of a shock if he does......