Monday, September 27, 2010

Mrs Frisbee and Mrs. Whatsit

This school year, for the first time ever, I have classroom pets: two rats named Mrs. Frisbee and Mrs. Whatsit.  I know the mere mention of rats makes most people shudder, and I'm not going to claim that they're cute in the traditional sense.  But they are cute in a gremlin sort of way, and have added a ton of personality to my classroom.  Not a day goes by where Mrs. Frisbee doesn't run off with a student's pencil, or eat a purple crayon; while Mrs. Whatsit meanwhile is chewing up my teachers edition of our Interactive Readers or eating the corner of someone's homework (okay, maybe I should keep them locked up more often--point taken).  Last week we had a fire drill, so naturally students took Mrs. F and Mrs. W outside into the student assembly area with us, because heaven forbid the rodents get left behind in the event of a real fire.  Last week, one of my students went to run a few errands for me, and without my knowing, he smuggled Mrs. Whatsit in his pocket and took her on a little field trip around the campus.  The students have endless fun with these rats and, for better or worse, they have become somewhat of an icon in my classroom.

And it's not just the students--I have my own little unsolicited adventures with these two troublemakers.  The first time I took Mrs. W and Mrs. F home for the weekend, I had nothing to carry them in, so I stuffed them in an empty tissue box.  For obvious reasons, this didn't work out.  The following weekend, I used a tin lunch box.  Unfortunately, the two were jostled around so much against the hard tin that I decided I needed something else.  So last weekend, I put them in a much more soft and comfortable large vinyl lunch box.  It worked for the ride home, but on the ride back to school on Monday, Mrs. Whatsit chewed through the vinyl, and both rats escaped.  I can't even begin to describe how much FUN it is digging through your car, trying to find two rats running around in there amidst kids' sweaters and toys, and meanwhile hoping that no other teachers pulls up to see you going through this process.  So having learned my lesson, this weekend I put the rats in a small plastic kitty carrier.  It was the perfect solution, because they wouldn't be able to chew through it, yet the rats would have enough space to avoid getting knocked around.  But when I arrived to school this morning to pull the carrier out of the car, there was only one rat.  Somehow Mrs. Whatsit had yet again escaped.  Feeling rushed and desperate, I called out, "Mrs. Whatsit!  Come on out!"  I know this had to be a coincidence (either that or I'm the Rat Whisperer), but she suddenly peered out from underneath the passenger seat and scampered out.  I quickly shoved her in my purse and proceeded to class (don't ask to borrow my chapstick, by the way).

Trust me when I say that if you are a teacher who wants to add liveliness and adventure to your otherwise mundane day, get a classroom pet.  Better yet, get a pair of lively, personable rats.  You will laugh every day.  But trust me also when I say that classroom pets--especially rodents--are not for the faint of heart.