I killed my kid’s guinea pig. I didn’t mean to.
I imagine being a guinea pig can’t be too exciting- living in a little cage, walking in your own poop- and for a reason that I can’t understand- you (the guinea pig) pooped and peed in your own food bowl. This sort of behavior doesn’t seem to bother the little pigs. They are super cute and the kids love them. I like them too. I had to pick a favorite, it would be Ricky. Ricky wasn’t prone to peeing on you like Lucy would. Technically Ricky was girl (for better population control). My son “owned” Ricky and my daughter “owned” Lucy. Back to my issue— I just can’t imagine how living in your own mess in a small cage can be a good life.
I had this dream that we portioned off an area on the front deck with chicken wire and make an enlarged enclosure for the piggies. They could run wild, poop and pee to their heart’s content– and with weekly cleanings, such a large area wouldn’t be so bad. Full of this vision, my daughter made little houses from boxes with doors and windows cut in. She attached several of them with little tunnels. We even put up a blanket for shade and as a wind breaker, and an area for the guinea pigs to hide from the Kestrel hawks in our area. Really, we thought of everything for their comfort and happiness. We just knew life for Ricky and Lucy was going to be awesome at the Greene house. We brought out their little cage and opened the door to their new enclosure—one that provided almost total freedom. We reveled in them exploring. I thought I was rocking the mom job.
Well, evidently guinea pigs are susceptible to heat stroke— I found Ricky peacefully dead the next day. I felt sick. I ended up telling them that night… and tears flowed, sad bitter tears… and I remembered the pain of my cat dying when I was young (I found my cat, a dead (partially eaten) bird… and my young CSI mind deduced the cat choked on a bird bone.) The passing of this guinea pig was the first Pet Death of my children’s life—and it was my fault! My hubby, in just five minutes of Google-smarty-pants research discovered that guinea pigs don’t deal so well with the heat. I didn’t even think of that when I made their awesome new home. I thought the outdoors would be heavenly for them… Bad pun?
That night, as midnight was approaching, I was outside with a head lamp burying our dearly departed guinea pig. My neighbors, who were up late painting, had a horror movie moment when they looked out the window and saw me burying things in the dark of the night.
So…I killed Ricky.
I couldn’t apologize to my kids enough. They didn’t seem to blame me, but I sure felt bad. When kids are young, a mom can kind of solve everything. I want to protect my kids, hold them and make life as perfect as possible, while I prepare them for everything I can—and just like I tried for Ricky, I want to make a good home for them. When I was looking out for dangers for the guinea pigs, I thought of the wind and of the small Kestrel hawks that frequent our street; and I tried to protect Ricky and Lucy from those things. But it was what I didn’t think about—what I didn’t see as a threat—that ended up getting to Ricky. As I held my tear-soaked kids and wondered what snot was being wiped on me, I felt guilty. My kids are getting to the age that I can’t soothe every pain with the ease that I could when they got a stubbed toe at age three—and now, they’re old enough that I may not see what dangers are lurking for them. The one thing I hope is that I am being a good enough mom that they will have the good sense to escape the hawks of life, and that they will ask for help when they need it.
We all have a weakness to something. For a guinea pig, it’s the heat (how is that possible? They are from South America! It’s hot there.) For me, I like to sleep. I love sleep— it gets in the way of getting everything I would like to accomplish done. I also have a weakness when dealing with manipulative people. I don’t like it. I think I would die of exposure if I had to live in poopiness. We all have our thing.
My daughter told me she forgave me because it was an accident and she knew I was trying to do something good. My son told me that he was glad that Ricky didn’t suffer and he didn’t blame me either. I guess that is the most we can do— just do our best and hope we don’t kill the tender feelings of others. We can go through our lives and try not to cause pain purposely and when we do—we can take responsibility for it. We can apologize, and when needed, stay up late (even when we are tired) to bury the pain we cause and ask for forgiveness.
There is something else we should learn from guinea pigs— don’t walk around in your own poop. If you have read my book you know what I am talking about. What does that have to do with my story? Not much, but it’s still a pearl of wisdom.
I should mention…we have two cats they are doing well.