Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Circle of Life

We just recently made an addition to the family. Ally's preschool class has been raising water frogs this year. They got tadpoles a few months ago, and the kids have been able to watch them grow and change into frogs. It was a really great experience for the kids, and there were times that they would all stand there with their tiny magnifying glasses and just watch the tadpoles forever.

At some point in the process, their teacher realized that she wasn't going to be able to keep all the frogs and would have to work on finding new homes for them. For whatever reason, I agreed to take one.

I suffer often from the inability to decline such offers. People ask me if I can do something, pick something up, watch this kid, and I say yes. Every so often my brain censors my mouth in time and I manage to say no. But almost always, I am finding myself with more things to do, more people to take care of, more tasks to complete. You know what they say...if you need something done, ask a busy person. There really is some truth in that.

Last week, one day after school, I gathered up the kids and went in to pick up our newest family member. I knew I couldn't stay long, though, because I had already agreed to be home early in case the neighbor's kids got home before she did. (Remember that prior paragraph...)

The kids chose which frog we needed to take home. Of course, they had to sit and debate which was the best frog for a while, and finally settled on one. And they had to name it. The girls decided that the frog was a girl as well, and her name is Ariel. We got the frog in a container and covered, got some brief instructions and a little bag of food.

The frog can live in a fish tank indefinitely, so I've been told. As long as it has access to air, it will be fine. Part of the reason I agreed to take one of the frogs is that I didn't have to get anything else to be able to keep it. We already have a fish tank.

We've had the same fish tank for a few years now. And we've gone through quite a few animals. We had one goldfish for a very long time, much longer than I ever anticipated having a goldfish for. We had a plecostemus for a while to eat the algae, but that one died too. We got two snails to clean the tank about a year ago, and they are gone now too. The snails did us the favor of having babies before they died, and the tank is now covered with tons of teeny snails. When the big goldfish died, we got 4 new fish. I'm not sure what kind of fish they were, actually. Three of the four died within a few weeks, and one was left. We've had more than our fair share of funerals that ended with a flush.

For probably 8 or 9 months now, it's just been the one fish and a whole bunch of baby snails in the tank. Everyone seemed to get along fine. I was starting to think the fish might be on the way out, since it was spending a lot of idle time at the bottom of the tank. And then everything changed, the fish was back swimming all the time. We got a frog.

I didn't think that the frog would bother the fish honestly because the fish was bigger than the frog. But, within 48 hours of putting the frog in the tank, the fish was stuck to the filter, and no longer with us. Another funeral. Now I am really hoping that the frog leaves the snails alone - they keep the tank nice and clean.

I went to the store yesterday and stopped by the fish tanks. Saw the frogs there in a tank with some fish and asked which kinds of fish could coexist with the frogs. Lucky me, I asked someone who clearly didn't know anything about fish or frogs. I'm not getting another fish until I know if it has a chance.

The kids want to know what happened to the fish. They are used to the fact that fish die, since it tends to happen fairly often around here. But the fact that our last fish died so soon after getting the frog leads me to believe that there was some mischief in that tank. The kids are learning that animals can't always get along.

Welcome to the family, Ariel. Try not to eat anyone else while you're here.

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