June 2, 2005

The Little Pets

Remember how the BOY TRIBE in my neighborhood was engaged in the rampant mass murder of tadpoles, dredging them out of the pond behind my house and placing them in tupperware and bombing them with whole animal crackers (that dissolved into gill clogging sludge), keeping them long after they died, still calling them by their names and dropping still more crackers into the filthy water and insisting they were JUST SLEEPING until the sad, sad little bodies WITHERED into BLATANTLY DEAD tad-husks? Yeah. Boys. *sigh*

I wouldn't let Sam keep any until we had gone to PETS BACKWARDS R ALMOST AS EXPENSIVE AS CHILDREN (with nods to Dave Barry) and spent many bright, shiny pennies on a tank and a "bubbler" and fake coral reefs and real water grasses and gravel AND tadpole food...which doesn' exist by the way. I asked a PETSMART employee for some.

Her: Oh, there is no such thing.
Me: But... what do I feed tadpoles?
Her: Oh you just boil a little cabbage up for them every day and maybe chop up some...
Me: HA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHA. No, but really, what do people WHO HAVE LIVES feed tadpoles?
Her: *hands me a little jar of Aquatic Frog and Newt Feed*
Me: Perfect!

So last week, the tadpoles were established in the De-Lux-O-Riffic Tad-Mansion (deluxe because it had those little amenities the other would-be tadpole environments in the garages of the BOY TRIBE members lacked. Just little luxeries, like, say, OXYGEN) and they ate the Aquatic Frog and Newt Feed up like it was mother's biscuits.

I liked them. I enjoyed watching them, keeping the tank clean, arranging the aquatic grasses and building a little pebble island for when the frogs-to-be emerged wanting a beach. I really liked how the bubbler gurgled and made the room sound cheerful. I especially liked how they were TEMPORARY.

"Eventually," I told the children over and over, "Tadpoles become frogs, and you release them."
"These are not FOREVER PETS like WAFFLES," I told the children again and again. "They are VISITORS IN OUR HOME. We can't FEED frogs, who will want to EAT GNATS and such! So we can ONLY have them until they change."
I was VERY clear and emphatic. Tadpoles=JUST PASSING THROUGH on the trip to FROGdom. FROGS= NOT FEEDABLE BY US. We worked to NOT get too attached...they do not even have individual names, for example. They have been collectively named The Little Pets, and they spend their days happily hiding amonst the grasses and purporting to be educational.

Which, they aren't really. Not INHERENTLY.

I realized HAVING tadpoles around don't teach nobody nothing. No one is standing near the tank and having bits of KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AMPHIBIANS seep into their brain pans via bubbler osmosis. SO. We got on the internet to research what sort of frogs they might turn into, and see what stage they are in now, and how many stages there are, and what their scientific name is and blah blah and the more we looked at different tadpoles found in Georgia, the more I came to realize that these things...these little pets...they were NOT tadpoles. Not at all. I had no idea WHAT they were.

Until on one tadpole page I saw a sentence that read, "Newts are often mistaken for tadpoles" and the word newts was a LINK, and I clicked it and up popped a picture of...The Little Pets.

Me: Holy cow! The Little Pets are...Newts. No wonder they liked the Aquatic Frog and Newt Feed!
Me:...um...bigger Newts?
Sam; COOL! BIGGER NEWTS! And they eat the newt feed, so we can KEEP THEM! OH COOL! NEWTS FOREVER!
Maisy: *arching her back and raising her hands like an Mary Lou Retton sticking her landing* Newts! Fo'ebbah!

Newts. Forever. Okay then.

VIRTUE REPORT: Still extremely virtuous, but my FIRST big VIRTUE CHALLENGE is tonight---supper club and eclair cake. HEY! By the way, if you are playing 20 Days of Virtue, and you, like my friend Mir, are BLOGGING IT, send me the URL! I will post a link to your virtue updates, and we can all follow each other's progress as our tad-butts morph into... SMALLER BUTTS! SMALLER BUTTS FO'EBBAH! HOOWAY!

Posted by joshilyn at June 2, 2005 2:11 PM

Okay, here is a really stupid question I should probably know from the magnificently glorious Kudzu-riffic archives, but do you guys have an actual pre-existing pet NAMED "Waffles," or are your lovely brilliant charming offspring practicing Waffle Husbandry (in the 4-H sense) with representatives of the genus Eggo/IHOP?

Frankly, I'm hoping it's the latter--not just because I really really really don't want to install a guinea pig/snake/pony/mongoose here at the Chateau Ultra Trashy, but also because I am really really really enjoying the mental picture of the little waffle leashes and waffle rhinestone collars and waffle exercise wheels and even multi-colored tubular plastic Waffi-Trail (tm) housing complexes which proud ownership of a domesticated Dimpled Golden-Brown Belgian Breakfast Confection might entail.

This despite the fact that I have always been more fond of Pop-Tarts.

And then the other thing would be that if you kept your waffle companion long enough, defrosted, it would probably acquire a long shiny pelt of unknown derivation. Okay, maybe not shiny, but I bet it could still put Chia Pets to shame in the foliage department if you kept it slightly moist and warm.

(I add that last only as something to meditate on when you are faced with the delicious eclair cake. Just keep thinking "furry waffles on leashes in mid-July," and I bet you won't be tempted from the Path of Virtue.)

Posted by: Cornelia Read at June 2, 2005 2:59 PM

How about some "newt" pictures?

Posted by: Dave T. at June 2, 2005 3:08 PM

Now I have Python, Monty on the brain:

"She turned me into a newt."

"A newt?"

"Well, I got better."

Posted by: ben at June 2, 2005 4:45 PM

Cornelia, Waffles is a one-eyed cat. Though Waffle Husbandry sounds... interesting.

Newts look just like tadpoles? Newts forever? Oh, honey. You'd better look up the life expectancy of newts. When they die, might I suggest a refreshing trip to New England?

Posted by: Mir at June 2, 2005 4:46 PM

The life expectancy of newts? Just until they can get out of the container and mummify on the carpet. They don't rot, just turn into little newt mummies. I had one do that to me over holiday break during college on year. Buster never was the same after Dave left him.

Seriously, they only live a year or so, but they're oddly fascinated by dry land... which they can't live on. So you'll be lucky if they live that long.

And shouldn't that be newt-butts now?

Posted by: Beth at June 2, 2005 5:33 PM

Just spit my (virtuous!) water all over the keyboard. Tad-butts! You slay me.

Posted by: Amy at June 2, 2005 5:43 PM

Time to break out the P.G. Wodehouse books for your son...see if he can fancy himself as another Gussie Fink-Nottle!!

Posted by: Elizabeth at June 2, 2005 5:58 PM

*ahem* While I myself am not personally inclined to participate in the VIRTUE CHALLENGE (otherwise known as "What? No gravy?"), I am entirely willing to assist others. To this end, eclair cake and other, um, non-essential, minimally nutritive food items may be sent my way for, er, testing. Yes that's it. Testing. *burp*

Posted by: David at June 2, 2005 9:07 PM

I did a virtual crash and burn in day two. Ugh, pass the eclair cake, no really don't. Yeah do, er not. Plus it probably won't travel that well and then I'll have an ant encrusted fuzzy chia pet, which of course Arlo will eat, because I found out that Bassettes (besides thinking they are lap dogs) love white macadamia nut ice cream -so what the heck why not chocolate slimed chia fuzz? I think I will try starting back over at day one on Saturday, because Lord forbid I should miss Fast Food Friday and ice cream during workshop. I did drink to quarts of water today day, does that make me better? Please? I'm begging you.

Posted by: Cele at June 3, 2005 1:17 AM

Ok - you convinced me. "SMALLER BUTTS FO'EBBAH" won me over. LOL. That and the little squeeze I did putting on my pants this morning. eek!

Posted by: PJ at June 3, 2005 12:24 PM

Bwahahahaha! Newts forever.

Posted by: Heather at June 3, 2005 6:09 PM

I love your pet stories. They always make me laugh. I also agree with Dave T, we need to see pictures.

Posted by: Joe at June 3, 2005 6:17 PM

Okay, okay, I'm blogging about my 20 Daze of Virtue! The office birthday cake and Thai restaurant were mere piffle - I have the weekend upon me and also a visit to Walmart Supercenter where I picked up the naughty Fiddle Faddle and also the Salt and Vinegar Pringles last weekend. Here's to success for all.

Posted by: Dara at June 3, 2005 6:46 PM