With all my ruminations on death, I’ve left our pet saga to dangle in the wind. I left off with our having finally picked out two boy gerbils, and my having to leave them with Carol at the pet store until I could pick them up the following Monday.
I asked Carol again to please confirm that they were of the same sex; did you know that gerbils can start breeding at the tender age of two months, and produce a litter as often as every month???
She grabbed one, then the other, peered at their tiny tooshies and confirmed, ‘Yup girl, and girl.”
“Girls?” This was a mistake! “We picked out boys.”
Carol looked utterly annoyed. She stuttered loudly, “You finally just TTTTTTT…OLD them they were boys.”
She could have been right. Ryan and Kenny had been so indecisive, pointing at this gerbil then that gerbil scurrying madly around the tank, until I’d grown impatient and told them to just pick one. And Carol too, I knew, had grown impatient (to piece this whole story together, you might have to refer back to those older pet saga posts).
We’d reached a point where we just had to pick two, any two. As long as the two were both boys…that much Kenny and Ryan agreed upon. No girls. Yuck.
So driving home with the girl gerbils beside me in their tank, standing on their hind legs, front paws held together in prayer or utter alarm, I contemplated what to do. Maybe I just wouldn’t tell Ryan and Kenny the horrific truth, that their new pets were actually female. In fact, Kenny had first picked out one I liked, a pretty brown and white one, but when he found out it was a girl, he didn’t want it. He settled on the black and white one which we understood to be a boy. Which now I understood to be a girl.
The boys both have several girls in school that they are buddies with. Who even enjoy an occasional sword fight in our yard. On the other hand, Ryan and Kenny both have vowed never to marry because then they’d have to kiss a girl. Frankly, at their tender ages of six and seven, I’m pretty ok with that. But when a girl tried to take Ryan’s hand one day walking into school, and he shook her off as if she were sticky, I felt badly for our female lot….
Then I thought: What the heck is wrong with GIRLS! We need some females under our roof! I was tired of the boy pack, the superhero play that I couldn’t participate in because I didn’t want Superman, Batman and Spiderman to fight all the bad guys. I wanted them to have a tea party.
I thought I’d break the horrific news in the car, on their way home from school; Ryan and Kenny were super excited to see their new pets which were waiting for them in the 10-gallon tank in the playroom.
If I told them in the car, I could imagine the frumpy faces I would see in my rearview mirror. Their confused, annoyed silence.
I waited until we were home and actually peering at the gerbils in their tank, as they chewed on paper towel rolls.
“They’re so cuuuuute!” Ryan cooed.
I took one out for them to pet, for a quick efficient bonding.
Kenny grinned. “He’s really soft! Like a chick!”
Then I told them.
I had rightly anticipated their looks of horror.
In unison: “They’re GIRLS?”
“What is wrong with girls?”
“I wanted a boy,” Kenny whined. “I picked out a boy. Boch is a boy.”
They’d also already picked out names. Boy names. Boch was the name of Kenny’s best friend’s dog. Which was a boy.
“Boch is a girl,” I proclaimed, as if at podium. “So you’ll have to pick out a girl name. Deal with it.”
Kenny pouted. Deeply. Chin in neck.
I stared them both down. “MOMMY is a girl.”
They looked at their feet. What could they say?
They looked back at the tank. Ryan gazed at the busy little gerbils, leaning his chin on his hand. “Well…They are still cute…”
Ryan had named his Bat since he’d picked out a black gerbil and his favorite animal was a bat. Ryan was able to come up with Rosey for his own gerbil.
Kenny refused to pick out a girl’s name. He wanted Boch. Not sure what Boch is, maybe unisex, but it sounded too male to me.
I suggested Bonnie.
“Boch. Boch is her first name, Bochy her last. Boch Bochy.”
So there you have it. Them. In their playpen:
Here’ s Rosey:
And Boch (with a soft c):