Summer: A season for pets

“You promised when summer was here!”

“Look outside.” I pointed to the window as I glared at my child, “You call that summer…it’s raining!”

My child’s bottom lip quivered and her head hung on her chest.

What modern-day mother has never been intimidated when she realizes she is trapped; trapped by the promises of, “Yes, you can have a pet–BUT, not till summer comes.”

Summer’s here.

Wearing a grin and holding a large sandwich bag with a zip lock top my 3-year-old proudly brought home her first pet.  Not just one, but two goldfish, gleamed at me through the plastic.

“I promise to feed them and love them every single day,” exclaimed my child. Somehow I knew it would be a long, hot summer.  We plopped Salt and Pepper (the fish, not the spice) into their brand new fish bowl.

How can something the size of my thumb make so much trouble?  By morning they were swimming gaily in fresh clear water.  By afternoon they were in LA smog.  Every other day they had to have a major overhaul. My daughter’s eagerness to feed them left them, well…dead.

Every day during the entire third grade, every note to Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and birthday wish list, all said one thing, “P-L-E-A-S-E when summer comes may I have a hamster?”

I am as crazy about animals as the next guy, but face it, you really know when a child is serious on a request because they become relentless.  They keep their room neat, don’t slouch, stop snapping their gum and send you “Love You” notes.

That summer we picked up the hamster for $1.50 and his bedroom set for $69.95.  We let it run up and down our arms.  In our sleeve and up and down our pant legs for about a week.  He was cute.  All furry with a twitchy nose.  He had to have clean shavings and water.  A little more complicated than the goldfish.  But then our daughter was now older and more responsible. Right?

The darn thing about the hamster though was that it had this annoying habit of sleeping all day, as as soon as the lights were out, he would hop into the drivers seat of his exercise wheel and like an army marching through potato chips, go around and around all night long.

Then one night it happened.  I was alone in the house quietly sitting in my chair when out of the corner of my eye something scurried across the room.  My heart stopped. Yuck! A mouse in the house.

I heard it behind the fridge.  I must have clipped it just right with the broom because there it lay in the broom straw looking up at me.  How could (Marshmallow) the hamster have escaped his cage of steel?

After the funeral we were all too sick to think of getting another.  We took his deluxe condo and covered it with a towel and put it in the garage on top of the fish bowl.  We missed the sound of the wheel at night.

Thanks to a relative (you know who you are) our daughter got her first gift certificate…for a bird.  Two birds in fact.  They were supposed to mate.  Their cage was decked with all the latest amenities: nest fluff, egg and fruit sticks (to maintain strength), nesting bowl and plant foliage.  They lasted for years and sung beautifully.  Though they never did reproduce.  We changed their names from Fred and Wilma to Goldie and Tina.

As your children grow strong and independent you would like the summer pet urge to cease.  This summer?  Say hello to Chocolate (the brown kitty) and Peanut Butter (the orange calico kitty).

Here we go again!

A summer treat for Mom’s (AAT short for Alias Animal Trainer)


2 – 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 – 1/2 cups hot espresso coffee

2 – 1/2 cups half and half

6 egg yolks

5 cups heavy cream

one vanilla bean, split in half

With a wire whisk, mix together the sugar, flour, salt and espresso, half and half and vanilla bean until well mixed.

Add egg yolks and creme.  Mix well.  Freeze in ice cream freezer.  Before serving remove vanilla bean.

(Shanna Celeste is a Bothell resident who enjoys sharing her recipe ideas and stories with readers.  Her column appears regularly in the Citizen.)