Hedgie the Hedgehog is coming to our house for a long Thanksgiving visit

— Photo by Jo E. Prout

Clara has an armful of Golden Doodle. Clara speaks Dog.

My kids have been anticipating the holidays since September, and they are counting the days — not because of food, presents, or snow, but because we will be hosting Hedgie the Hedgehog.

My daughter, Marcela, was thrilled to enter fourth grade after she learned that Mrs. Collier’s pet hedgehog lived in her classroom. My kids love animals.

I have been finding lizards in my laundry (RIP, little critters) and kitties on my doorstep (another one?) for decades. Chickens on the trampoline? No problem. Lobsters that climb out of the tank and walk across the living room? Woops! Lanie the dog had a lovely breakfast.

Baby chicks in the nursery before the baby came, and later, in the college boy’s room? Well, OK, once more will be all right, but that’s the last time, really. The chick needs a splint for a crooked leg, in a tank in the living room? I guess so.

College Boy loved snakes and always begged for one in the house, but I stood firm — no way. No snakes! No mice in my freezer, and no escape artists in my house.

Guess what he bought at school? A Western hognose. Oh, College Boy’s going out of the country for six weeks? OK, OK, we’ll snake sit. Not because we’re suckers, although we are, but because, if the snake is welcome, College Boy knows that he is, too.

Clara, my teen, speaks Dog. It’s true, she does. She also has a love of reptiles and birds. We allowed her to get a chameleon, once she could take care of him, herself, including taking care of the live crickets and worms that he eats. Ick.

When she traveled with her dad for a week, I sucked it up and threw a few crickets in the terrarium each day, first coating them with vitamin powder. Feeding him was creepy, but I managed, and Simon, the chameleon, seemed happy, or as happy as a grumpy chameleon can be, anyway — they really are moody.

Simon outgrew his tank and Clara, handy with a tool, built him a new one. She’s making plans for how to house the birds she wants, but no birds are coming in my house! None. No birds. Yet.

Marcela, being the baby of the family, has observed all of this, and she’s also a pro at dealing out the mom-guilt.

“Brother had a dog, and Clara has a dog. Why can’t I have a puppy?” led to a three-hour drive to Syracuse on St. Patrick’s Day to get our sweet black Golden Doodle, Clover. The empty house while the kids are at school had nothing to do with that drive — nothing. Clover is Marcela’s puppy. Really. Really.

On the upside of having a puppy, we’ve had the car detailed (lots of bleach) and the carpets steam-cleaned. Cleaning is good, right? We just needed inspiration. Dear, sweet Clover Puppy! Marcela is a lucky girl.

She put in her request with Mrs. Collier the first week of school — she wanted Hedgie to spend Christmas with us!

“Mrs. Collier said we can have him for Thanksgiving,” Marcela told us. “Ava gets him for Christmas!”

“That Ava!” Clara said. She didn’t actually say it that way. She’s a teenager, and she wanted to play with a hedgehog for two weeks. A long Thanksgiving weekend will be fine, though. She’ll be happy.

Even College Boy is excited about Hedgie’s impending visit. He always wanted a hedgehog, too, along with those snakes he begged for. I know this.

I also know he has friends across the country and a week off from school. I am not above tempting him to come home to see, cuddle, and care for the cute little Hedgie so that I can see my cute grown son. A mom has to do what a mom has to do.

Thanksgiving is going to be great. I’m sure we’ll have some corn and mashed spuds, and a few pieces of pie. I wonder if Hedgie will like pumpkin pie or apple, or maybe some of Simon’s worms? Surely not the hognose’s mice?

Of course, we’ll give him only what Mrs. Collier provides; we need to have a good reputation in case Ava has to head out of town. Even if she doesn’t, caring for Hedgie will definitely be a helpful experience — my kids are already mounting a combined effort to lobby for a new family pet.

I hope Santa remembers the house rule: No live gifts! Silly Santa! He never listens to me, either.


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