If your kids are begging you for a pet and you’re not ready, or you want to test their responsibility with an animal, a tadpole is one of the easiest pets you can get.
Last June, my 8-year-old son, Aden, asked if he could bring home one of the tadpoles from his classroom tank. I told him no, knowing he would lose interest in a matter of days and I would be stuck caring for the squirmy thing. I’m not sure if he tuned me out or overruled me completely but imagine my surprise when he exuberantly exited the bus on the last day of school with a tadpole swimming frantically around in a plastic bag.
Although I was annoyed, there was no turning back so I accepted our new amphibian and headed for the pet store. Apparently, there are two kinds of tadpoles: some turn into frogs, and others remain tadpoles forever. Nine months later, I‘m guessing we got the kind that never becomes a frog, or this little guy is taking his sweet time.
Aden named him/her (we’re not sure which) Caroline and “she” lives in a small plastic tank on our kitchen windowsill. The pet storeowner told us she would need something in the tank if she turned into a frog, so she could climb on and breath above the open air. We had an old plastic shark from a departed goldfish’s tank so that’s all the diversion Caroline enjoys, besides watching us humans rush around.
While I resented her presence a bit in the beginning– because I am the only one that cares for her—I’ve now come to love that easy tadpole. She is certainly the most appreciative and low maintenance creature in our house. I try to feed her fish food flakes every other day, but when I forget for days, she doesn’t complain. I attempt to clean her tank twice a month but sometimes I’ll look over and she’s swimming through green goop like it’s no big deal. The kids love watching her grow and change, and even if she never becomes a frog, the anticipation is a draw.
She ain’t pretty. She has a froglike face but never lost her long tail and has these tiny, deformed looking feet that don’t seem to serve any purpose. But we love her just the same.
At least once a week I am convinced she’s dead because she can float so still for hours, but she’s a survivor. There was an email chain going around among the parents in Aden’s class throughout the summer with detailed updates on the development of each tadpole as they turned into frogs. But by the end of the summer, the emails stopped and it seems almost every one of the other tadpoles had not made it to September.
The pet storeowner told me to only fill her tank with bottled water at room temperature because there was something in the tap water that wasn’t good for tadpoles. Perhaps the other owners didn’t get that tip. But I’d like to believe our Caroline is special.
Next time your child wants a pet, be a hero and say yes to an easy tadpole. Your kid will thank you and then you can thank me.