Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Keeper of the Sea Monkeys

We lost our Sea Monkey "Stanley" sometime overnight. I'm not exactly sure when it happened, as my 6 year old told me this morning that, "Dad noticed Stanley 'sleeping' last night". But, the discovery this morning of a floating lifeless crustacean was upsetting. My younger son was in tears because it was his "monkey", but I was upset because I spent so much time trying to get this Sea Monkey to grow that the creature floating this morning was a slap in the face. Why would I subject myself to Sea Monkeys in the first place? I don't know.

When I took on the role of "Stay at Home Mom", I knew what I was getting into. I knew that I was trading in my career of taking care of patients for the responsibility of taking care of everyone in my house. Much like an under-staffed busy shift in the hospital, there are many days that I am just trying to keep everyone here alive. But what I missed in my job description was the Zoology degree I would need to take care of all of the non-human living things in our house; and keep them alive. I'm taking the loss of the Sea Monkey hard.

I'll admit that when I bought the Sea Monkeys, I didn't know what they were. In fact, I assumed they weren't actually real. I had no idea that I would be farming brine shrimp. I bought them because they were on the shelf in the toy store next to the "Grow a Frog" kit I was buying for my older son. Since my younger son loves monkeys, I thought they would be a cute gift for him. Just like when I came home with a Beta fish a few years ago, I didn't think through the water changes and maintenance these little pets require. I was only thinking of my kids. But my kids are too young to independently care for their pets; so although these pets belong to my kids, they are really my responsibility. When the Beta fish "Swimmy I" was found floating a month after his arrival, I quickly replaced him and vowed I would never let another pet perish in my care. Swimmy II has now outlived his life expectancy and I consider him a success story. I've had success maintaining our hyper-allergic high-maintenance Golden Retriever and our new tadpole is growing on schedule into a lively frog.

So, I guess I was feeling confidant that I could in fact grow and take care of these mythical Sea Monkeys. I followed the directions exactly with my anxious 3 year old looking over my shoulder. And then we waited. Nothing. I was so worried about these little shrimp; I thought for sure I had already killed them. I checked them everyday for 2 weeks and finally, the tank was filled with movement. "The Stanleys", as they were named by my 3 year old, had hatched and were alive. I, with the supervision of my 3 year old, continued to care for them and watch them grow for another few weeks. But slowly, the number of Stanleys diminished, until we were left with just one quite large Sea Monkey. And now we're down to none. My 3 year old's tears were short-lived this morning, but I'm still disappointed in Stanley's demise. I take my job seriously, even if sometimes that's nothing more than keeping Sea Monkeys alive.

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