Sunday, 2 November 2014

Guinea Pigs



I dreamt about guinea pigs last night.Something, I might add, that is very, very unusual for me, as animals don't figure largely in my life. Until three weeks ago that is, when my daughter finally got to choose two guinea pigs. Now I feel like a new mum.

Within hours after their arrival in our household I completely and utterly surprised myself by cooing over the guinea pigs, like I would over a new born. It is completely ridiculous, as Mr. S. doesn't hesitate to point out, but I can't help myself.

At bed time I no longer give my daughter a good night kiss. Well no, I might eventually still give her a kiss, but not until I have talked to the guinea pigs at length, arranging their toys and ensuring myself they are tucked in nicely in their straw burrow.

This all really annoys the 11yo, who a.) is the proud owner of the guinea pigs, as she can't point out often enough and b.) feels she should be far more important to me than two guinea pigs. It doesn't help that she has a bunk bed, of which she occupies the top bunk, while the guinea pigs live on the bottom bunk.

So now when I come to tuck my daughter in all she hears is me busying myself with the guinea pigs. She can't see me from her position in the top bunk, nor can she see the guinea pigs, who always happen to do some incredibly funny tricks, just around bed time.

I am, by the way, not the only one who has completely been won over by the guinea pigs. My son can also quite often visits the guinea pigs in their rodent enclosure. He even went so far, as sitting in his sister's bedroom for around two hours, when he came home early from school to an empty house. According to my son, the guinea pigs, who, despite them being girls, have been christened Ollie and Cheesy make great companions.

Although Mr. S. admitted the other day that our two furry friends are 'quite nice', he doesn't really want to pick them up. He did the first days the guinea pigs were around, but since he found out they go to the toilet wherever, whenever, he is less keen. So most nights my daughter and I snuggle up on the sofa, each holding on the a guinea pig and a towel (to counteract the aforementioned toilet business).

The 11yo now insists she is going to teach Cheesy and Ollie some tricks and has devised an elaborate obstacle course to train them. Patience, she informs me, is key. First they have to be tamed. Instead of running over to her when she enters to room, the guinea pigs currently still run for cover. Lot's of picking up and stroking and talking to them quietly, whilst feeding them treats is what needs to be done.

I should know this, as I have been trying to teach my daughter some tricks over the years (along the lines of: 'flush the toilet', 'don't drop your clothes wherever you take them off', 'put dirty crockery in the dishwasher', 'return home with your jacket, mittens, hat, umbrella' and 'keep your bicycle keys in the designated drawer'). She is always very polite when I point out the dirty clothes on her bedroom floor, or a floating turd in the toilet and promises me to really try and remember what is expected of her. And then she just gets on with whatever she was doing before.

I on the other hand get so annoyed that I - on more than one occasion - yelled at her. I have also binned all the dirty socks and undies lying around and laughed when she couldn't find her bicycle keys for the umpteenth time. To no avail. But now I have a cunning plan. Instead of yelling at her, I will stroke her and feed her nice treats, whilst talking to her about tidying, flushing and keeping track of belongings. I bet you I can tame her. She will be putty in my hands.