The tale of how Squanto came into our lives this past week is truly too long and complex to do justice to on my laptop. Suffice it to say, the newest addition to our family is an adorable Brazilian Short-Tailed Possum. (As an FYI, these are not the same type of possums you see grimacing and glaring when you take out the trash in the middle of the night. They’re about the size of hamsters and are way cuter and friendlier than their larger, wilder relatives. They also are legal as pets and can—at least from what I’ve read—even be litter trained.) Anyhow, Squanto is Maria’s baby and was named on the heels of a recent seasonal kindergarten unit that dealt with the story of the Pilgrims.
Personally speaking, I can’t decide if he looks more like a miniature wombat or a character from that scene in the sketchy bar at the beginning of the first Star Wars movie. Nonetheless, I already love Squanto for multiple reasons. He’s virtually odorless (at least three days in anyways). He is also relatively quiet and has yet to soil my carpet. In this respect, he is indeed distinct from other four-footed family members that reside in my split level.
And, of course, he’s absolutely adorable. Though I would obviously never take on a pet for this reason, he keeps Maria occupied for remarkably long stretches of time in her room. My offers—infrequent as they may be—to play Barbies or draw pictures have been met with rejection since Squanto settled onto my daughter’s desk. She practices reading stories to him and serenades him with the tunes on her Littlest Pet Shop MP3 player. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her quite so enraptured with another living being, including when I brought home two pretty darn cute bundles of baby boy joy in 2006 and 2009.
So, no moral to the story this week, except that I’m as thankful for Squanto as I’m certain the Pilgrims once were. Okay, I suppose my one little chestnut is that, if you’ve not yet allowed your children to enjoy the rewards of pet guardianship, consider reconsidering that. It doesn’t have to be a dog or a cat if you’re not ready to take on the responsibilities of potty training and buying 10-pound bags of kibble. It can be a fish, a hermit crab, or even a short-tailed possum! Alternately, you can always volunteer with your wee ones at a local shelter this holiday season. As always, I’d love feedback, so if you have stories of how an animal has warmed your son’s or daughter’s heart, start typing below. If you don’t, I dare you to tell me that my footage of Squanto doesn’t utterly rock the cuteness meter!