I suspected this when Santa delivered our 2 sweet, orange kittens on Christmas morning a few years ago. After a few months in the hands of my children, our one kitten, Matty, grew into the skittish cat who sleeps under my bed and darts for the safety of my closet whenever she hears their voices getting close. Her brother Newton, on the other hand, parks himself up high enough to take a swipe at the face of any child who comes within 3 feet of his chosen perch - whether they see him there or not. Which is why he's currently sporting a set of purple plastic claw covers and an ad for a new home on Craigslist.
Of course, Mother Nature's cause for terror was confirmed during our vacation at the beach this past week, where my children discovered their talent for making money. Or in this case, collecting sand dollars. The two seemed sort of interchangeable to them, because once they found the first one, they were well on their way to collecting 100. You'd've thought they worked for the IRS the way they hunted down every last dollar.
I was surprised at how eager my sweet Emily was to sign off on these sea creatures' demise, though. If I am to have one, this is for sure the child who will be a vegetarian. She cries when the chicken trucks drive by our house on their way to the Tyson plant, and asks me over and over, "Those are the mean chickens, right?" She doesn't believe that the meat in her fish sticks comes from the "real fish that live in the ocean." Odds are, it doesn't, but I also didn't have the heart to tell my Little Mermaid fan that I ate flounder for dinner the other night. That conversation would NOT have gone well at all. But she seemed unconcerned when I explained that the sand dollars were living creatures and that by taking them home, we would be killing them.
"That's okay, Mommy. I don't mind."
I finally talked the kids into selecting 3 each to keep, and we returned the rest of the sand dollars to their low-tide home. Along with the starfish they'd been molesting for about an hour, who surprisingly managed to keep all his limbs. By then, they had moved on to one of the little hermit crabs they'd found.
"Can we keep him, Mommy? PLEASE???"
Yes, I was weak-willed. But I had every intention of rescuing that hermit crab later that day, so I filled a cup with some sand and sea water, and Jerry was
I have no idea what hermit crabs eat, and to be honest, I kind of forgot about Jerry until a few days later when we were packing up to leave and the kids asked me what we were going to do with him. Peering through the plastic cup, I assumed the poor little guy was just one more victim of my children's love, but then I saw him pop out and skitter around the periphery of his tiny tank.
Son of a gun, he made it.
I felt like I needed to reward Jerry's fortitude, so while the rest of the family took off for home, my sister Julie and I headed to the beach with the hermit crab in tow. I honestly can't explain it, but we really felt like we owed it to Jerry to give him a second chance at life. As I stood with him at the ocean's edge, I could almost hear the sound of nature sighing with relief that my children were headed home. I hummed a little bit of Born Free and then bent to release Jerry back into the ocean. I'm pretty sure I heard him cheer "Yippeee!!", but it was just before a giant wave crashed over him, turned him upsiade down, and washed him out to sea, so I can't say for sure.
Poor little guy. Maybe my kids aren't the only ones Nature wishes to avoid.
Gosh, I hope he made it...