As a child I explored my nurturing side through the acquisition of a few doomed pets. One conclusion was reached after a few furry friends came and went in my life: I am not an animal person. I respect those who love the little beasts who share this planet. I believe nature and all it’s inhabitants should be preserved and not abused. God’s creation inspires awe and reverence in me. Animals are good. Having said all that, I am still not too keen on myself being the one to care for said fauna.
So, why was I scooping guinea pig poo this morning when I was still in my jammies and leopard print robe? That is a great question. I was cleaning the cage of our two little guinea pigs along with my very willing daughters for one sole reason (besides the removal of the stench and ugliness of the filth). My motive is: Heritage.
The formation of heritage is a purposeful reinforcement of customs, behaviors and traditions in the lives of the generation that follows us. This spans the spectrum from things with deep meaning such as instruction in the scriptures to things that would appear to be irrelevant such as the keeping of pets. I believe that every attention paid to the implementation of heritage in our families is not wasted effort. The list of benefits is extensive.
The proof came this morning when my youngest daughter said to me, “When I am grown up I am going to get my kids a guinea pig to care for. It will be good for them.” Yes! My chest swelled with pride as I remembered begrudgingly cleaning the cages of my childhood rodents, Pinky and Speedy. Now, together, the three of us were reestablishing the pillars of our heritage as we went through the motions of removing the acidic urine and soiled news papers. We were being strengthened in: cooperation, care for nature, cheerfulness in the face adversity, respect, good workmanship, follow through, kindness, and the joy that comes from a job well done.
I am grateful that my parents created moments that these character traits could be formed in me. I am doubly grateful for the opportunity to orchestrate interactions in which these same character traits are ingrained in the heritage of my own kids.
P.S. Other pets I had were identical cats who I named Simon and Simon as well as some hamsters whose names have, sadly, been forgotten. We also had other animals in our home growing up like the huge family of mice we raised to feed our snakes. Now that was interesting. There were fish, too. My family will have to fill in the blanks beyond that; those are all the ones that come to mind at the moment.
Feel free to share points of heritage that you have continued down through the generations.