Friday, January 27, 2006

How to Traumatize a Child in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1. When the child's hamster dies, take it to the vet, as you did with the cat, so it too can be sent out for cremation. Request the remains be returned to you.

Step 2. When the remains are returned, note that the sealed plastic box is slightly larger than the deceased hamster. Make a remark to that effect, like "They could have just put him in this box! He would fit perfectly!"

Step 3. When the child isn't looking, casually weigh the box in your hand. Note it feels heavier than you expected.

Step 4. Let suspicion begin to creep into your mind.

Step 5. The next time your child isn't looking, sniff at the box. Sniff all the way around the seal.

Step 6. Send child outside to play.

Step 7. Shake the box. Shake it like there's no tomorrow. Note heavy chunk sound. Also note box sounds awfully full.

Step 8. Roll box in your hand. Listen to tiny scratchy sounds. Remember hamster's tiny paw-hands. Remember hamster's tiny finger-claws.

Step 9. Rummage in child's treasure box for dead cat's cremated remains. Find them. Repeat Steps 8 and 9 with cat's ashes. Note no heavy chunking sound. Note no scratchy sound.

Step 10. Find sharp knife and cut open seal on hamster's "ashes". Close your eyes as you open the box, then peek out of one. Breathe a large sigh of relief when you see that, in fact, hamster has been cremated instead of merely sealed in a box, and ashes are neatly contained in a baggie. In fact, be so relieved that you start to laugh, somewhat hysterically. Do not notice that this draws the child to the screen door, where he sees and hears his mother cackling over his poor, dead pet's disrupted eternal slumber.

1. To make the shrill cry characteristic of a hen after laying an egg.
2. To laugh or talk in a shrill manner.
[Middle English cakelen, probably from Middle Low German kākeln, of imitative origin.]
"cackle." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Jan. 2006.

(No, in truth, he's fine. I decided not to go with "Mommy's an untrusting paranoiac," so instead I said, "Oh, I was just making sure it was the right hamster!" He didn't ask about the cackling, so I didn't even try.)