Monday, February 8, 2010
Greta is intensely jealous of her sisters' fish tanks. She is no way ready to maintain a tank and I entertain no illusions about who would be changing the water, scraping the algae, changing the filters, testing the water. So I said she could start off with sea monkeys. Fun! Educational! Not so upsetting when they die!
Sea monkeys are a bit of an exercise in patience. The first day she put in the salt mixture. Then she had to wait two agonizingly long days until she could sprinkle in the eggs. And then began the even more painful wait for those invisible things to hatch. Four or five days later she was carrying the little tank around moaning, "When will my sea monkeys ever hatch?"
We took it into the bright but indirect light of the kitchen. And in that light, if you looked very hard, you could just make out tiny dots moving around. Oh joy! Little sea monkey families wearing their teeny tiny crowns and carrying their teeny tiny scepters!
A few days later, long before you could really make out those little guys, long before they had lost their luster, we had friends over for dinner. The sea monkeys, honored guests, had a place at the table. One of our small human guests picked up the sea monkey container and inverted it. Off came the lid and out came the water. The sea monkeys, those that hadn't splashed onto plates and ended up as spaghetti and sea monkeys, now inhabited Sea Monkey Lake, a thin and spreading tabletop lake ending in Sea Monkey Falls.
The little boy was horrified and apologetic. "I thought it was a snow globe!"
Greta was hysterical.
I was practical. What did we have this marvelous (if not fashionable) plastic tablecloth for except to pour a lake of sea monkeys back into its proper container? We stopped Sea Monkey Falls. We lifted up the edges and poured the sea monkeys back into their container. Greta was wailing, "We should give them to someone who can take better care of them!"
I contemplated the results. Murky. The table had evidently been liberally dusted with parmesan cheese. And the container was only half full. There was a large puddle on the floor. I did my level best with a turkey baster, but didn't recover much more. Still, in strong light, a few hardy swimmers could be seen navigating the murky depths.
We hoped the cheese would settle. It's salty, I thought. And tasty. The brine shrimp will love it. Not so. Parmesan cheese, in sufficient quantities, is fatal to brine shrimp. This is a little known fact and I offer it to you in the spirit of a public service.
Greta took the news with her usual calm resignation.
Yes, she burst into tears and hid herself in a closet wailing, "They were more dear to me than I am to myself."
What did I learn from this (educational!) experience? That I was wrong that is not upsetting when sea monkeys die.
Oh, and also, if you have sea monkeys: tape that lid on really well.