All year, my middle son's fourth-grade class has had an aquarium full of African Dwarf Frogs. The kids have cared for them as a class, learning about their diet and ecosystem. But the end of the year is upon us, and the frogs needed homes for the summer.
And I have SUCKER written on my forehead, so it's a perfect match.
My son presented a compelling case, complete with bullet points and a closing argument, as to why he would like a chance to adopt one or two. They're small, easy-to-care-for, and (he knew this would be the deal breaker) they don't smell.
(I have a fair amount of tolerance for annoying pet behaviors. But I cannot abide bad smells. Not a whiff. Not a fraction of a whiff.)
My son brought home the paperwork (oh yes, there was paperwork). He and I had to sign an agreement that we would care for the frogs and absolutely, under no circumstances, would we "release" the frogs. And by "release", I can only assume they mean "flush".
"Are you absolutely, positively sure they don't smell?" I asked for the fourth time. He nodded solemnly. I looked at the paperwork again. Then I remembered that episode of LA Law from 1987 that taught us that all legally-binding contracts pertaining to the adoption of African Dwarf Frogs become null and void in the event of a vile stink. Really. I'm just sure I remember that one.
I signed the paperwork, as did mothers of many other fourth graders, and my son anxiously stewed over whether his name would be drawn in the frog lottery. (Oh yes, there was a lottery.) There were 16 frogs, and there are 22 students. You could take those odds to Vegas.
One afternoon this week, my son bounded out to the car with a plastic-wrap-covered Solo cup. We were now the proud owners of not one, but two African Dwarf Frogs (Bud and Lou), and we headed to the store for supplies. My son, having studied the frogs all year, was very well-versed in what they need (which thankfully, isn't much.) They need to swim in distilled water, in a glass bowl with a vented lid, and they need regular fish food.
So I grabbed a cheap little bottle of fish pellets off the grocery-store shelf.
"NO!" shouted my son. "Not THOSE! They will make the frogs constipated, and they would explode!"
This is the point at which I must pause to point out that I consider myself a reasonably well-prepared mother. I studied ahead and braced myself for teething, potty training, stomach viruses, orthodontia, sleepovers, ER trips, sibling rivalry, The Talk, video games, and fractions.
But I will confess that in all my years of looking ahead, never ever did I factor in the possiblity of exploding, constipated frogs. (It's created a crisis of confidence in me, actually. What other unexpected dangers might be looming? Guinea pigs with cholera? Lactose-intolerant squirrels?)
I am happy to report that we dodged that particular bullet. Thanks to my son's extensive frog knowledge, Bud and Lou swim happily in a bowl next to me at this very moment. Nobody has exploded, and nobody stinks.
(I am struck that when one considers "nobody has exploded and nobody stinks" a statement of achievement, then one may have set one's bar a little too low.)
This parenting gig is full of surprises.