Aug 9, 2010

Return of the Prodigal Mother, or: Blood and Gore Galore

So, I'm back in the good ol' 'Cuse. And happy to be here, in the bosom of my loving family: a harried but heroic husband, a couple of hyperactive, selectively deaf children, and a menagerie. New York was awesome, but I confess it gave me a whole new appreciation for Central New York. I'd wax rhapsodic about the treasures of our beloved home, but my return was marred by the sight of my daughter's pet rat and its second head.

My husband tried to prepare me. He'd been talking for two weeks about the eye infection that looked like an alien, and how it turned our cute little albino rodent, Cloud, into nothing less than a zombie. Would that I'd listened, and not pooh-poohed and dismissed him as a wuss of the first order. ("I can take it," I said to myself. "I'm a mother. I gave birth. I clean the toilets.") Then I saw the rat, and OH. MY. GOD. It was like Night of the Living Dead. In my HOUSE.

I blame Google.

Now, I'm not a total buffoon. (Though these posts might indicate otherwise.) I know what's a good website and what's not. I mean, I did the H.E.R.S. assignment in 605. I know about information literacy, y'all. And when I Googled "rat" and "eye" and "discharge" I came up with a few sites that said, essentially, "Don't worry too much about it. Might be infected, but probably minor. Could also be nothing but a cold." And they weren't fly-by-night sites that you don't bring home to mother. So we waited to see what would happen. And I mean, come on....we're talking about a RAT. Are we really supposed to take it to a vet and pay for antibiotics and shove said meds down its throat?

You betcha.

My heroic husband and brave little girl did just that when the second head appeared. TWICE. Because the first time it actually worked. This is what my husband told me when he called me in NYC: "Cloud's face fell off! I was nauseous for three hours!" But underneath her skin was pink and healthy and she was on the mend. Unfortunately, it was only the intermission, because by the time I got home I swear her head looked ready to explode and cover the whole house in blood and gore.

Long story short: It didn't get better despite copious doses of antibiotics, so I made the call and we had poor Cloud put to sleep and buried her in the backyard next to the two groundhogs, three squirrels and one parakeet. (I'll tell you about our killer dog another time.) Later that day our daughter, still dressed in her funeral black, sat by the grave and wept.

But you know what I found thanks to Google, that would've taken a lot of extra time and effort otherwise? The Mourner's Kaddish, in Hebrew, PLUS the phonetic transliteration, PLUS the English translation. (I think saying it for a rat may go against all sorts of laws, though, so don't tell anyone.) So Google's not quite dead to me yet. But when it is, I think I'll bury it in the backyard.