Google Something Clever 2.0: The Legend of Croakley J. Ribbits

May 2, 2014

The Legend of Croakley J. Ribbits

Or, How I Managed to Complicate the Hell Out of a Simple Birthday Gift

It was the moment when found myself smuggling a tadpole into Stop & Shop that I realized that this would make a good blog post.

Let me back up.

On January 31st, 2013, my son turned four. He was gifted with a tadpole habitat, which came with an order form for a free tadpole by mail. The idea was that you order the tadpole, watch it grow into a frog, toss him in the woods or whatever, and congratulate yourself on learning some biology.

When I attempted to order the tadpole, I learned that they're only available in March and September. Okay. That makes sense. Mating season, or whatever. March came and went. I stumbled across the order form in July. Shit. Okay, so I'll wait for September. I found the habitat in his closet that November. Damn.

This past March, I remembered the tadpole! I hopped online (what an awful, unintentional pun) to order it and discovered that the company had gone out of business. After calling around to various pet stores, we found one that carried tadpoles, only they were out of stock. So we waited. And on April 12th, 2014, we brought Croakley J. Ribbits home. The boy was so excited. We walked down to the lake to pick out some special rocks to decorate his new home. On the way back, fifteen minutes later, he asked me if he was a frog yet. So cute.

On April 27th, I found him floating belly-up in his habitat.

It was half an hour before bedtime. My son was changing into his pajamas, and he hadn't noticed Croakley. I hustled him into the living room and did that married thing where I used only four words and eighteen facial expressions to communicate to my husband, "I just looked at Croakley really quick, and I'm pretty sure he's dead, but I can't fucking handle that shit, so can you please go take a look and confirm?"

And he did. And then he came back into the living room and Googled to make sure that upside-down meant dead. The citizens of the internet were of conflicting opinions on the matter, so he went with the time-tested method of poking him with a stick. Croakley failed the stick test.

We sat the boy down and told him. He wailed. He asked me why. I held him and silently cried, too. Not for Croakley (we weren't that close, to be honest), but for my grieving child, who'd never known grief before. After a few minutes, he calmed down. Then he asked for a new tadpole.

We gave Croakley a burial at sea, and by that, I mean my husband dumped him in the lake while I stood on the dock holding my son.

We decided that he probably didn't make it because the habitat was too small for him. I'm not sure what kind of tadpoles that company was mailing out, but I guess they weren't American bullfrogs, which is apparently was Croakley was.

So that's how I ended up at the pet store the next day, buying a new tadpole, as well as a ten-gallon fish tank and various accoutrements for said tank. And of course, I had to buy a few jugs of spring water to fill the tank, because I'll be damned if this new guy's dying from tap water shock. It was about 60 degrees outside that day, so leaving him in the car was out of the question. But they don't allow "pets" at grocery stores, right? What else could I do but stick the tadpole in my purse and bring him with us? It's not like he touched any food; he was sealed in a plastic bag. #SorryNotSorry

So now, fifty bucks and two trips to the pet store later, here we are. Meet Reboot:

Get it? That's a two-parter right there.

The day after we took him home, his water was murky and brown. I panicked and went out and bought a filter. After installing it, I Googled and learned that the log I purchased for his tank was releasing tannins into the water. Yeah, tannins. The stuff in red wine that gives you a headache. The internet tells me that I need to boil the log for two hours to cure it.

Do you enjoy the smell of wood burning? I no longer do.

I guess we're in this for the long haul. And it gets better: when he turns into a frog, we're keeping him. That means that I get to feed him bugs! Yup, I have to actually buy insects and bring them into my home to feed to another creature. Gag. Wish me luck.

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