Thursday, July 12, 2012

Honey, I'm Sorry I Killed Your Aquasaurs

It's a great time to be a writer. We have so many more opportunities available to us. I love the fact that we can traditionally publish or self-publish on Amazon, for example. I self-published a book that's a compilation of my newspaper columns—Honey, I'm Sorry I Killed Your Aquasaurs (and other short essays on the parenting life). Thought I'd share the title essay from that book.  Enjoy!

Thank goodness things are back to normal after the holidays. Well, almost—how normal can your life be when you have small children? We muddled through the holidays this year with a sense of foreboding, knowing we would get inundated with toys and we would be left wondering what to do with them. And we did. One of the worst things we received this year was the gift of Aquasaurs.

If you don't know what Aquasaurs are, consider yourself lucky.

The kit comes with eggs that hatch--but they must hatch in spring water that is a certain temperature and you must be careful that you don't bump them around too much. All this fuss tickled my husband. "If they are prehistoric creatures, why do you have to be so gentle with them?"

The girls and I followed to directions to perfection and soon we saw teeny, tiny Aquasaurs emerge in the murky waters. The only place I could safely put the plastic tank was on the kitchen table. After awhile, I wished I would have placed it somewhere else. No matter how much I cleaned it (every TWO DAYS) the tank looked filthy and the bigger the creatures became, the more they resembled some kind of bug. And I had them in my kitchen.

After about two weeks the girls lost complete interest. I found myself crushing the tiny bits of food for the three that survived. Of course, it was also me that cleaned the tank— much the same way that it is I who cleans the cat box and feeds the cat. As if I needed anything thing else to do in my life.

If I had toddlers in diapers, the care of the Aquasaurs would have driven me to madness.

I admitted to some friends that I really could not wait for the Aquasaur life cycle to end—they were disgusting little creatures, taking my time, and invading my kitchen. They only live 90 days or so. But I resolved to let nature takes its course, even though I had briefly thought of flushing them down the toilet.

This presented a moral dilemma for me, a vegetarian who strongly believes in the dignity of all life. I could not quite appreciate the dignity of the Aquasaurs.

Then something strange happened. I thought it was my imagination, at first.

When I cleaned the tank one day, I noticed that one of the little creatures would come to the top and look at me and do little flips. The more I talked to it, the more it flipped around. It seemed happy to see me.

This began to happen every time I cleaned the tank. My husband stopped and watched my cleaning the tank one night and said, "Look, that one likes you." And so I knew it was true. We had bonded, this little Aquasaur and me. Woe be unto me.

A few weeks later, as I was cleaning the tank (again), as I poured a clear liquid into the tank, suddenly I smelled something weird. I realized that it was vinegar. The plastic vinegar bottle was sitting next to the plastic spring water bottle and in my harried state I poured it in, instead of the water. All I could do was stand there and watch them die, hideously, but quickly.

We buried the creatures under the apple tree in our backyard, along with any thoughts of getting any more pets.

Author’s Note: I still feel like crying when I think about this.


Linda O. Johnston said...

How sad, Mollie. I never heard of Aquasaurs before, but it's difficult to lose any kind of pet, even weird ones--and most especially since you were developing a relationship with one.

Mollie Cox Bryan said...

It was really hard to tell my daughters about it. I opted to tell them the truth. And they still talk about those little guys!