By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 22, 2015
Liz Banfield

1. Notice top of hamster’s cage is ajar; wonder if your house is inhabited by fairies as no one admits to knocking into cage.

2. Look under every surface on entire first floor. Wonder: Can hamsters climb stairs? Ponder.

3. Console children.

4. Nag children, who on second thought don’t seem that upset and in fact are not searching as strenuously as you are.

5. Contemplate having a glass of wine, even though it’s only 10 a.m. Remarkably stressful, looking for a hamster.

6. Marvel as children—once SpongeBob Squarepants is over—spring into action. Watch in wonder as Middle places carrots and celery next to cage and Eldest pours a ring of flour around the setup, a trick he picked up on the Internet. Is the Internet a force for good after all? Ponder.

7. Wait 24 hours.

8. Yell at dog for trying to lick up the flour.

9. Continue to wait. Look halfheartedly under stove.

10. Forget about hamster entirely, despite ring of flour now cemented by dog saliva into carpet. Head out to garden for some peace and quiet.

11. Ignore children yelling for you, as they probably just want you to drive them to Best Buy.

12. Race into house once screams become too urgent for any responsible mother to ignore.

13. Join in general rejoicing and overall miracle of fact that hamster has been located under bathroom radiator.

14. Vow that, despite numerous such pledges in the past, this really is the Very Last Hamster.