Let me begin this post by saying that the actual guinea pig accompanied travel plans have not yet been executed. All of the related drama to date has been about the idea of traveling with my daughter's beloved pets.
For whatever reasons that only the brain of a small child can understand, Mariam's two guinea pigs (Daffodil and Olivia) have become the representative objects for all of her worry and anxiety over the move to Vermont. Whenever anyone asks her how she is feeling about the move or if she is excited about it, her invariable answer is "I am nervous about the guinea pigs." Thus, at some point in the moving preparation process, we all became pretty well obsessed with making sure that these ridiculous little rodents arrive safely in New England. At one point, the director of Mariam's preschool even went so far as to look at me very seriously and say "You have to get those animals to Vermont safely. Have to."
However, it would seem that the airline industry does not particularly share our dedication to this cause and to some extent, is unclear on what a guinea pig actually is.
Long story short, we discovered this week that we would not be able to take the pigs as a carry-on (as we had been promised), nor were the pigs a type of small dog (as they were entered into the computer by the airline rep when he was making their "reservation"). Both of these facts were the cause of no small amount of trouble. We eventually found out that despite the summer "pet embargo" that would keep us from checking the pets as luggage (which is probably about as good an idea as it sounds) we could have them go as cargo via a pet shipper. This, however, would require some fancy official paperwork that needs to come from a vet. Most vets, we discovered, are steadfast in their lack of desire to treat rodents. Who knew? And, they are especially unhappy about the idea on a holiday weekend. Luckily, as I was on the way to the all-night emergency pet hospital in San Francisco last evening, fully prepared to pay what can only be classified as an obscene amount of money to get our pets certified for travel (oh, what we will do for our children!) I got a call that had me making a U-turn and heading back over the bridge to Oakland. The mother of a former student of mine, a veterinarian, was still at her office and would be glad to do the health exam for us. Nice save.
So, in the end, the girls have the necessary paperwork and are ready to board their flight on Monday morning to begin the Vermont adventure along with the rest of the family. And, I somehow ended up feeling as though I have been officially initiated into parenthood. There is something about being fully prepared to take irrational action for the happiness and mental well-being of your child that makes a person suddenly realize that you are no longer a reasonable person. You are now a mother.