The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 13, 2013

Murray column:Parenting can be a dirty job

Why does this stuff always happen to me?

Whether it’s dealing with dead pets or catching puke with my shirt, being a dad can be messy work. Consider the latest chapter in my Dirty Dad Jobs book:

I walked into my daughter’s room the other day, which is always a treacherous proposition. First, it usually looks like a Ragstock changing room at closing time. Clothing everywhere. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be there. But the clothes in that laundry basket aren’t about to put themselves away. Second, she’s a teen-age girl — the possibilities are endless when it comes to things I really don’t want to see in my daughter’s room.

But back to my point ...

So in I go, a stack of yoga pants, honor band T-shirts and music note socks in hand with a plan to spend very little time in there. One thing I always do, however — or, more accurately, did — is check on Omelet the rat.

My daughter has had a fascination with rodents for about a decade. Ever since she was old enough to hold a mouse without being scared of its tail, she’s had a cage or tank in her room with a rodent. She’s had mice, hamsters and rats. But the rats have kind of been her favorite.

Omelet has been growing dramatically in size the last three or four months, and not in a good way. Tumors had taken over her body to the point where she was literally twice her regular size. You might say she’d gone from being a two-egg to a four-egg omelet.

Anyway, I walked in and checked on the old girl like I always do. (She was a little over 3 years old, already knocking on the door of the latter end of the life expectancy continuum.) My routine was always the same with Omelet. I’d peer into the cage and, if she was hiding, I’d simply blow into the mess of a nest she’d created and she’d come scrambling out. Occasionally I’d pick her up and let her crawl around my arms and head.

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