Thursday, February 21, 2008

Turning six and kissing frogs

Amazing the difference a year makes. One year ago we were recovering from what I didn't know was to be the last of the Boobies Princess Parties (sound the thundering APPLAUSE).

For the act of turning six, we purchased two tiny tree frogs from one of our two our local big box pet stores. Lots of discussions preceded the purchase, as we have all fallen madly in love with Dandelion, our 9 month old Russian tortoise who thinks he's actually from the Galapagos Islands. At least the volume of romaine lettuce and cauliflower he consumes daily would make us think so.

We went as a family over the weekend and the twins pulled themselves up onto a rolling ladder to peer into the terrarium to choose the frog of their choice. Since there were only two frogs and one anatole lizard, the process went pretty quickly. One frog was long, the other stubby. In they went inside what could have been used as a to-go container for soup, but had little holes poked in the top plastic lid. They held their containers gently with sweet smiles on their faces. The stubby one was to be called 'Yahtzee,' probably more for the tone of it than the idea of our family sitting around on family game night playing the game. I did buy Yahtzee a couple of months ago, thinking we would lapse into my childhood, but the first attempt at playing it ended with lots of screaming about the twins being too young to understand the 'rules' and subsequent door-slamming. But the name of the game stuck in one of the twins heads as the perfect name for a frog and so it was - Yahtzee it was too be. The other twin had a more difficult time deciding on the perfect name for her frog. Froggy, Freddy, Cutie Pie, Leapy, Hoppy - all of them were bandied about, but after 30 seconds, the answer was, "I'm still deciding." So be it.

We also purchased some moss, a fake plastic leavy thing and $2 worth of small live crickets, much to the disgust and dismay of our oldest DD, who sighed with relief that Dandelion is an herbivore. FYI - $2 worth of small live crickets roughly comes out to about 20 of the little chirpers, a bargain by any means.

Once home, we set up the all-in-one terrarium they would share and in they went. And up they went right up to their prospective corners, where they proceeded to stay until they both went underground, burying themselves under two inches of substrate material. At least the crickets were active. And at least the terrarium is sound-proof.

Yesterday I panicked and made DH, a bonafide frog expert from his childhood days spent playing on a golf course as his backyard in Miami Beach, to find out if the frogs were still alive. I had spotted the one to be named, but Yahtzee was no where to be seen. This also coincided with it being the twins' actual birthday and I was beside myself at the thought her newly named frog would no longer be alive. I tenderly dug through the substrate, hoping to prod it out of its hiding, remembering that Dandelion buried himself for about a week before he settled into our family.

So DH did his fatherly duty and dug around and YAHTZEE is alive! I have never been so happy to see a small green being in my entire life. I about burst into tears! We all ran into the room and rejoiced, doing a little Yahtzee dance.

For those of you who are wondering what I mean by fatherly duty - in our house that includes cleaning up the cat litter, which was started for obvious health reasons while I was pregnant and which thankfully continues to date. It also includes taking the dog for a walk at night, going into the crawl space and digging up potentially dead frogs just purchased for DD's birthdays.

When I told my normally open-minded mother about the frogs, she reacted so violently that it almost shook the very nature of my being. "Frogs? Disgusting!" I then remembered her growing up in South Africa and frightening tales of locust storms, and that maybe droves of frogs dropped out of the sky as well, like in the film "Magnolia," but it was early for Passover, so I took a deep breath and said, "Disgusting? They're only little tree frogs. What's so bad about that?"

"Where will they live?" she quipped.
"In a terrarium."
"But won't they get out?"
"We'll have a top on it, like we do with Dandelion."
"But that's inhumane!" She shrieked. "Frogs are born to leap."
I waited a long time to answer her. Was my mother some secret agent for PETA? When did she care so much about frogs?

"They're tree frogs, mom. They live in trees. I don't think we will be harming them by keeping a top on the container."
"Oh, well," she sniffed back at me. "I'm sure you know best."

I couldn't believe it. My mother was advocating for free leaping and I had suddenly turned into some heartless frog colonizer. What was happening here - it was like some 1960s hallucination gone bad.
"They were only $10 a piece. The tortoises would set us back $170 if we got them both their own."

Ah, the wonderful voice of reason. That bit of financial news calmed her down and she congratulated me on making a very sound financial choice and then proceeded to lecture me about spending so much on Dandelion. No winning with this long distance call. She then continued to tell me that when she was in high school that a boyfriend used to call her "froggy." I didn't have the nerve to ask her why.
To end on an upbeat note, I am happy to report that the frog formerly known as question mark is now been given the fine name of "Max," or "Maxi." Yes, it is quite possible that the longer, leaner, larger frog of the two is in fact a female. DH has assured me no little Maxis and Yahtzees will come out of this union because frog eggs need water in which to thrive and the teeny water dish that came with the container will not suffice. Time will tell. In the meantime, I just hope that Max/Maxi finds Yahtzee to be the prince of her dreams.


Rosemary Carstens said...

Yay for children's pets. It's such a neat way to introduce children to various forms of life other than their own, the need to care for those more helpless, and the simple enjoyment of life in these tiny creatures! My favorite "frog" memory is about being about ten years old and living in the country surrounded by alfalfa fields. There were taps for starting and stopping water flow in each field and near the accumulated water spills lived tons of toads. I collected them in a terrarium/cage until I had 42--at which point my mother insisted that they be released--I don't think she had in mind that I'd release them into our front yard grass! Rosemary Carstens -

Boobies&BodilyFunctions said...

I had a similar experience with japanese beetles. I grew up in SoCal and used to love them - they would land on the screen doors and I'd collect them in a jar. One time I decided to open a very full jar of them in my bedroom and my mother had a similar response, prompted by my screaming at the top of my lungs because my room was swarming with them!

The frogs and tortoise have stolen my heart.