Monday, July 6, 2015

The tadpole saga

Our neighbors were traveling abroad. I volunteered to babysit their tadpole.

It was a symbolic tadpole. The kids were supposed to release them once they became frogs. I'm a little fuzzy on the details. I was also fuzzy on the calendar, because I'd forgotten we were also going away for a few days.

Our neighbors didn't mind. We'd be in a hotel room. The tadpole could come with us.

So I packed up the little tank and moved the tadpole into a smaller container, and we drove off. The tadpole - who was pretty big for a baby frog - sat between my feet. He looked displeased.

Our room wasn't ready yet when we got there, but the front desk staff offered to watch the tadpole for us while we went to lunch. So to recap: Other people babysat the tadpole we were babysitting. We outsourced.

When I came back for the tadpole, though, I could see staff members clustered in the back, looking at me and whispering, and I thought, Oh no. Sure enough, the tadpole was no longer with us. "We're so sorry," they said. "We don't know what happened. We were all watching him swim around."

I assured them it wasn't their fault. Because really, second-degree babysitting a guest's tadpole is going above and beyond. They did suggest catching a new one from the lake, which was a nice thought, but only because they don't know me. I was not the sort of kid who was an expert at catching tadpoles. I had no ingrained knowledge to guide me. If I tried to catch a tadpole I'd probably wind up submerging myself.

We didn't exactly inform the kids right away. It wasn't the happiest way to begin our vacation. So the tadpole, officially, was taking a nap for a little while. The kids are not dumb, though, and they've gone through a few dead fish already. They knew the signs. They were sad for a few seconds, and then they wanted to go to the bumper cars. Like I said: They've gone through a few dead fish already.

The only decent thing to do was to replace the tadpole. You'd be surprised how many pet stores don't sell tadpoles. Also, the ones that do frequently sell bullfrogs, which eat other frogs, and a lot of websites discourage releasing them into the wild. Now I had an ethical dilemma. Or, an even more ethical dilemma.

Happily, I found an aquatic pet store that 1. sells tadpoles and 2. only sells species that can be released into the wild. The owner said he will never, never, never pet-sit for someone, because so much can go wrong, and he gets a lot of people coming in to replace goldfish or betta fish before, I presume, the rightful owners return. This was his first replacement tadpole, though. It's so nice to be a trailblazer.

Tadpole #2 is livelier than the first one, in that he seems to think he can make his pond expand just by butting his head against the wall. He occasionally leaps out of the water entirely, so as we sit in the family room, we hear sploosh sploosh from the kitchen. It takes some getting used to.

Our neighbors returned from their trip, and it's a good thing I had no intention of lying, because as soon as his friend asked about the tadpole, kiddo said, "Well, he died. But we got a new one!"

Excellent bedside manner, kiddo. Definitely become a doctor.

His friend was upset for about .5 seconds, until he found out that #2 has legs coming, and the coolness factor override any lingering grief.

So I expect our neighbors will come to collect #2, and once again we will be petless. That's fine. I'm starting to feel like creatures that live in water should run from our house.

Cute tadpole, though. 

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