Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hamsters are Just Not Like They Used to Be

I was musing to myself today, as I was tugging out handfuls of clover from our lawn, that my hamster (from when I was a kid) would have loved this stuff. When I was a kid, I remember spending hours sitting outside, watching my hamster, Snowflake (she was an albino, white with the pink eyes), munch on and then stuff her cheeks full of clover. When she looked like she would burst, I would return her to her cage.

My daughter's hamster, Hammy, has not showed the same interest in clover. In fact, he shows very little interest in foraging when we take him outside. And come to think of it, rarely seems to put anything in his cheeks, never mind stuff them to the bursting point.

So it got me to wondering why the difference, and I can only speculate that it may be because Hammy already gets such a wide variety of foods... We have a number of different foods we give him regularly, including a "hamster" seed mix, hamster pellets, nuts, rice, split peas, oats, and sunflower seeds. I don't remember what we fed my hamster regularly, but I remember one time getting a large beanbag frog - I don't remember if we bought it for 10cents at a garage sale, or someone gave it to us, or what - but when we discovered that it was full of grain, that became my hamster's food for months. So perhaps that was why she so enjoyed our regular trips outdoors, for the variety in her diet.

It made me think about my kids, and how when I was a kid, there was so much to look forward to. The mandarin oranges which only came out at Christmas time. Strawberries in June. Toys at Christmas or birthdays. Cake and pop at birthday parties. What a different world it is for my kids, with almost all food and material things available any time, and all the time. When they were younger, I think I did well at resisting the urge to buy them lots of toys, treats, etc, but lately we have found ourselves buying just about anything that catches our interest. Partly because we can. Partly because it is so much easier to entertain them with something new, than to revive interest in what they have. Partly because time is always so short, if we see it, we just buy it, we might not have a chance to return later... I am always looking for new baked goods to try... Things my mom wouldn't think to buy, she would instead bake her own. On the contrary, I can't imagine spending the time baking, it is much easier to just buy.

Then I thought again about Hammy.... He seems interested in the foods dropped in his food dish nightly, but if he walks around outside the cage, where some of the seeds have been scattered, he can walk right by them without showing interest (to my dismay, that we need to pick them up or finally just vacuum them up!). If hamsters evolve with us, will they eventually lose their cheeks, since they no longer have the need to treasure up food and carry it to their nests? How can we retain any joy or thankfulness for what we have, in the midst of so much? How do we help our kids appreciate the blessings they have (without boring them with the "When I was a kid" stories)?

On a lighter note, I need to share this cute photo of Hammy, looking like he's playing peek-a-boo (not the obsessive cleaning he does, of course!)... I was mad when I first saw it, and the silly piece of grass which my son poked in front of the lens as I was shooting, but later I came to appreciate this extra element of him hiding behind the grass. What do you think?
Hammy playing peek-a-boo

1 comment:

Susan G said...

I was charmed by this essay. You have seen the paradox of pleasure and plenty.

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