By midsummer (is it already midsummer?!?), my two boys have assembled quite the collection of wild things. If called upon, we could single-handedly restock an amphibian zoo, freshen up the entomology display at the Museum of Natural History, and keep Ziplock, Tupperware, and Rubbermaid in business. Our yard is scattered with countless containers with holes punched through the lids, rendering them useless to all but their exoskeleton inhabitants. Our 10-gallon fish tank is stocked with various species of frogs found in the yard, toads that were tucked under rocks, salamanders that slithered through streams, geckos who smuggled their way home in our suitcase, and bugs, so many bugs.
The creatures routinely get pulled out of their little containers by the boys, to enjoy a few minutes of freedom and literally spread their wings, before they’re carefully tucked back into beds of forsythia, maple, and birch leaves. Giggles rise up from the deck as six legs crawl through fingers, tickling as they go. I used to hate bugs, and if they sneak up on me, I. Will. End. Them. But watching my guys explore the woods and streams, pull out bug and lizard encyclopedias to identify species, use their scientific minds to learn more about nature? #loveit
Already on my mind is the inevitable end of summer conversation, when we must face the dismissal or demise of all of our collected creatures. Frogs and toads, lizards and salamanders, these guys need to hibernate when Central PA turns cool. And so, we must set them free. The conversations will start in early August with suggestions and hints. Perhaps a few of the containers will mysteriously tip over or pop their tops, freeing the little captives on a stormy and plausible night, when they’ll never suspect the Mommy-Bandit, freer of creatures, big and small. We might gain some traction with well placed guilt and a little begging.
But by the end of August, we typically still have a toad or two hanging out in the fish tank. So, we hit the boys with the full onslaught of economic arguments, starting with a trip to the pet store. We peruse the prices of a proper habitat, food, and other toady supplies, and leave with a Toad-al Price Care Sheet. Let’s just put it this way: that 2 dollar a week allowance won’t cut it. With that, the toads are set free, to roam the woods and streams until next summer, when they’ll be scooped up by slightly bigger hands to live out the summer in glass houses.
Sara Spock is a Mom, Wife, Penn State Graduate, Freelance Writer, and Coffee Addict. When she's not trying to avoid containers full of bugs, Sara can be found digging her toes into the sand while the kids build drip castles.