Romeo, oh Romeo

My life is a Shakespearian comedy. Take last Friday morning, for example. Everything was going ac­­­cor­ding to plan. Lunches were packed, school bags organized, children fed, even I was dressed for a client meeting. It was an otherwise typical day in the plot of my story. Then I heard these words: “My hamster is missing.”

Oh, come on. Running up the stairs, I found two children in tears and a cage with thin metal bars, one of which had been gnawed through  for the purpose of a grand escape. It was a hamster jail break.

Romeo is my son’s hamster. His cage sits on a shelf three drawers high in my boy’s bedroom. Romeo’s room­mate is Troy, the water-dwelling amphibian. Surely, I surmised, the hamster was deep in his cedar bed and just not visible. Like me, Romeo doesn’t “do” mornings. Neither does my daughter’s hamster, Juliet. We are of the nocturnal variety. For the record, I did not name them; Shakespeare did.

Sure enough, Romeo had left the building. The hunt was on. Gingerly stepping over Lego, a drum-kit, laundry once clean but now used for carpeting and a zillion Hot Wheels, I reasoned Romeo could not have escaped the obstacles of boyness. There was too much crap everywhere for something the size of kiwi fruit to crawl through. Shutting the bedroom door, I contained the situation. Barking orders, I sent the skinny child crawling beneath the bunk beds and dresser. The brawny child was sent to the closet to secure the perimeter. Romeo was nowhere. In the distance, I heard the school bell. Oh, come on.

Time was of the essence. I decided to interrogate Juliet, the soundly sleeping hamster in the next room. After all, in my life it is entirely possible that Shakespeare’s tragedy was actually playing out in real time with our family pets. Maybe Juliet slipped Romeo a drugged sunflower and had taken too much of it herself. Was he trying to get to her in time?You laugh but you don’t know what these rodents are capable of, and since they do hamster Morse code on their spinning wheels at all hours, how can I be sure this wasn’t planned?

That didn’t help. Then I remembered one of our other pets: Calvin the cat. Panic. The search party moved to the next level of the house. We were frantic. I decided to call the Carpenter on his job site, mid-search, to tell him the joys of parenting that he misses by being the work-outside-of-the-home parent. I felt if I shared my stress, I’d feel better. I got his answering machine. He got my rant.

Twenty minutes later, Romeo was discovered in a hall closet. The next 30 minutes were a blur: took Romeo to Grampa’s house to baby-sit. Not kidding. No choice. Dropped kids at school. Amused school staff with late excuse. Drove to pet store. Purchased secure chamber for rodents. Returned home to assemble chamber. Retrieved hamster from Grampa. Settled Romeo to bed in his new luxury condo. Forgot breakfast. Headed to clients, Mother-of-the-Year status firmly intact.

Hours later, the Carpenter returned from work, happily greeting me with a kiss and these sweet words; “Romeo, oh Romeo. Wherefore art thou Romeo?” Everybody is a comedian in this house.

Kelly Waterhouse