Beta Fish, Hermit Crabs and Bulbs, Oh My!


Have you ever bought your child a toy, or a gift that they were so excited about that you just had to step it up a notch?

Yesterday afternoon, my three year old daughter and I went to Target. They have this great new little dollar section in the front of the store that I refer to as the “bribe aisle”.

She was an angel yesterday while I was picking up a few odds-and-ends, so when I finished shopping, we made a bee-line for the bribe aisle. She started shuffling through fake earrings, princess tiaras and plastic shoes.

Suddenly she pulled out a little plastic hermit crab that clearly ended up in the wrong section. “Mommy, I want this one”. “See…he has a shell that protects his body”. “This is a hermit crab and he has pincers that help him grab things”.

I was so proud of her (and also *very* impressed by her preschool teacher). We went home, put the plastic crab in water and watched the crab shaped sponge “grow” overnight. When she woke up this morning, she practically squealed as she exclaimed…”mommy…he’s growing…look, look!”.

It was time to step it up a notch. We jumped in the van and headed to the pet store. I’d planned to buy her a real-live hermit crab. I asked the assistant what I needed to create a crab habitat.

Here’s what I learned. Crabs need an aquarium, regular feedings, and new shells to grow into. They also need to be checked for mites and maggots. “Did you just say, ‘mites’ and ‘maggots?'”, I asked, clearly not realizing what I was getting myself into. “Yes, and they need regular baths too”. Needless to say, I decided not to get my preschooler a hermit crab. I barely have the time to bathe myself much less a parasite-ridden crab.

I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I considered getting a beta fish. I could handle a fish. A little food, clean water…and no mention of “mites and maggots”. Unfortunately, someone had just purchased the very last beta fish…ug.

I called my mom who is the queen of clever ideas. “What can I get Jenna that she can watch as it grows that doesn’t need much care?”, I asked. “A bulb”. She replied. “Put it in a clear vase and she can watch it grow and bloom”. Perfect!

I stopped into the local florist and asked her for a bulb. Even though I was wearing a winter coat, knee high-boots, and mittens…I failed to realize that it was winter in Montana. “You want a flower bulb in January?” the teller asked almost sarcastically. “Forget it”, I replied.

Since I disappointed my daughter three times this morning we stopped back into Target and the “bribe aisle”. This time, she picked out the princess tiara and plastic shoes…and I was thrilled.

Related Reading:
Fish Stories
A Family or Home With Pets
Sharing Your Childhood Passions with Your Kids

Traci Anderson is a Home Biz Blogger. Read more of her blogs here.