Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eleven... and Rats!

I've been very sporadic about mentioning birthdays on the blog through the last few years. I don't have any good reasons for that... but I aim to do better.

Sunburst turned ELEVEN the other day. Holy cow! I can't believe we've been doing this parenting schtick for eleven years already! It seems like only yesterday she was smearing food in her hair and flushing miscellanea down the toilets.

Now she's a pre-teen and experiencing all the fun that goes along with that-- mostly staring wide-eyed through the windows of Claire's and contemplating new earrings (she got those pierced last birthday). I know she was wishing for a special new pair for this birthday. She was hoping for other typical presents, too-- books, craft supplies, games, and... a rat.

Yep, I said Rat. Disgusting, eh? It wasn't at the top of my list either, but somehow she got it into her head that having a pet rat would be a fine idea. We studied them last year during our man and animal block, though I admit she was already smitten by then. Shortly after that she presented her dad and me a heartfelt proposal detailing how she would take care of a rat if she was allowed to have one. A heartfelt proposal, with drawings no less... how can you say no to that?

We couldn't. I was reminded of something Charlotte Mason said (and I'm paraphrasing here) about how children need something to love. Something to think about, to take care of. Eleven is surely old enough-- why not a rat?

When we got back from the States Einstein took her into the pet store to pick out a rat. It was easy, peasy. One came right up to the glass and made eyes at her. "Pick me! Love me!"

And then the pet store people informed Einstein that, by Swiss law, they had to buy two. Isn't that crazy?! Apparently this Noah's ark-ish law applies to a few other animals, not just rats. Alas, it was not "buy one, get one free."

I present you with our rats: Pepper and Pancake.

Sunburst and her rats have become fast friends. They are extremely tame. They love to crawl around her dollhouse and snuggle with her while she reads. She loves them. She loves to think about them. And she loves to take care of them. And she's already making headway trying to train them.

And me? I had agreed to rats on one promise from her-- that under any circumstances I would not be required to deal with them, including touching them. I was serious. The idea of rats seriously disgusted me. I imagined them running around the house pooping on everything and chewing up my knitting.

But now that I've seen them... they're beautiful. They're sweet. And they are VERY clean animals. I can't help myself. I'm in LOVE... with rats!! Who knew??


  1. I want to play in that dollhouse!

  2. I've been a rat lover since I was a teenager, and they are truly unsurpassed as small pets--they are the only rodents who love you back!

  3. YEAH! Welcome to the rattie community :D We got pet rats last summer (2) and then adopted 2 more because we fell head over heels. They are absolutely fabulous - lovers, sweeties, gentle, kissy-faced cuties. I blogged about them twice, so I'll put the links down in case you want to show your daughter some fellow waldorf homeschooling rattie buds for her babies...also so glad to hear you did puchase more than one as they are colony animals and are truly lonely without a buddy. Also, there are some great you-tube videos, specifically look up Jorats. She has about 80 adopted (rescue) ratties and is up in Canada (see the one called "Rats Love Bananas". She also has a great rat forum called They will help you if you have any questions or concerns.

    Anyway, have fun! Enjoy! And here are the links to our bundles, if you are interested:

    Rattie hugs,
    Jen, daughters, and 4 rats (and a dog)

  4. My dd started fantasizing about rat ownership when she was almost 10. Maybe it's the age? Anyway, I informed her that maybe someday we could get 2 (you really DO need 2). And then another homeschool family announced that they needed a new home for their 2 rattie girls since they now had horses and thus less time for the rats. So, it was fate, it seems, that we become rat owners a couple of months ago.

    And I'm amazed at how entertaining they are. Older dd tried to start clicker training them, but we need to work on separating the 2 rats from each other (and also the cats) while training.

  5. Oh, yay! Thanks for chiming in rat loving friends.

    Jen, thanks for the great links!
    Gail, we love your rat decor!

    Sunburst was very pleased to see that other homeschoolers are rat happy-- and she loved seeing them on your blogs, too! Very cute rats!

  6. Oh hooray!! I'm so happy to see that you're back :) I found your blog the day you posted your advent post and thought that I must have jinxed things somehow...glad to hear that your absence was due to travel and adventures instead of any questionable mojo from me!

    Very sweet ratties by the way...

  7. Cypress, thanks for visiting!

    Since moving to Switzerland I get this weird, gnawing depression in December... lack of sun, maybe? Too frozen to type? --And then, yeah, we went to the states to thaw out in January. Seems to have helped!!

    Anyhoo, your mojo is much welcomed here. I hope you'll be back! :-)

  8. I had rats when I was in middle school and high school and loved them. I won't keep rats now because they are just too smart. You really need to make sure they are stimulated every day, otherwise it's like keeping a small child or smart dog in an empty room all day. If you (she :) have the time and inclination they can be fantastic pets. They just take too much energy for a pocket pet for me. I'll put that energy into my dogs these days :)

    One thing you guys could look into is clicker training with them. I train my dog that way.. you teach an animal that a sound marker always means they'll get a treat, and then use that marker to tell the animal when they've done the right thing. It's simple, it's scientific (operant conditioning) and it works. AND it's how they train orcas and lions in zoos :)

    Here's one link, but there's tons of info on the web.

    Enjoy your critters!!


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