I think I've mentioned before that my girls' regard for living creatures could not be more opposite. Kayla adores them ALL - giraffes to salamanders. 50% of the time she thinks she IS one.
Ashlyn's interest extends about as far as her Backyardigans fruit snacks.
Early last month, my mom and KK went on a nature walk up on Sawyer Camp Trail. Lucky for me, they came home with 5 tadpoles.
Cotton Candy, Jelly Bean, Chocolate Bar, Candy Cane and Gum Drop.
Unfortunately we lost Chocolate Bar a few weeks in. He/she is buried somewhere in the backyard. OK, well actually he/she was flushed down the toilet but we are "pretending" he/she was buried somewhere in the backyard.
Their "habitat" (one of KK's favorite words) was a Rubbermaid container filled with fresh rain water. Tadpoles do not tolerate tap water because of the chlorine and flouride content.
We also included rocks, sticks and strawberry tops (which they love to eat) and would set it outside for a refill each time it rained.
Cotton Candy and Jelly Bean grew up, overnight. Literally. On Tuesday they were happily darting underwater in the Rubbermaid. Sometime late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, their tails fell off and they began to plot their great escape.
Such rapid evolution (and preservation of whatever sanity I had left) necessitated their release.
Thus, the idea of a Tadpole Release Party was born (thank you, Kim).
Candy Cane and Gum Drop had not quite made it to frog-hood yet but were invited to the party because the habitat maintenance was getting to be a bit much. I began checking the weather forecast more often that one should (which is any time greater than once) and spending my free time scoping out freshwater sources in San Mateo County.
So I realized it was time for them to go. Or for me to go... to a home somewhere with a padded cell.
We packed up our precious pets and said the first of many goodbyes. Ashlyn is only pretending to be interested because they are leaving.
My parents, the girls and I traveled back up to Sawyer Camp Trail for the big event.
We hiked a few 100 yards in and found a lovely freshwater stream just off the trail that would make for a perfect new home.
Kayla and I hiked down to the stream while Nan, Pops and Ashy watched from the trail above.
I thought the idea of having a "party" would make letting go a little easier.
Tadpole Release Party rapidly evolved into Tadpole Release Crisis. Of gargantuan proportion.
She did fine saying goodbye to Candy Cane and Gum Drop. Easier, I think, because they were still tadpoles and not as interesting.
Her face was looking a bit more troubled when Jelly Bean hopped away.
The thought of losing Cotton Candy sent her into a hysterical frenzy.
She held him/her in her hand and wailed LOUD:
"But, mama! He is too LOVELY to let go-oooooooo"
At this point people are stopping mid-jog, looking down at her and staring.
Pop Pop mentions ice cream (normally our "ace in the hole" to right any wrong situation) and that didn't even help.
Ashlyn, the child that can barely hear anything, of course hears my dad speak of mint chip and starts frantically rambling and signing about ice cream.
Meanwhile, Kayla is still mourning the inevitable loss of Cotton Candy.
She has kicked off both pink Crocs and is standing barefoot in the stream. And her screaming, only getting louder.
"Please, mama! PAH-LEASEEEEE. He is just so cute and lovely! SO gorgeous! I just cannot bare to let him go-ooooooo!"
"Ice Cream... Ice Cream... Ice Cream... Ice Cream..."
coming from the little one still standing on the trail, oblivious to the drama taking place below.
It was then that I noticed it.
Leaves of three. Let them be.
Ever since Kayla's Bunker Hill preschool days, she has been abnormally paranoid of the poison oak plant.
Primarily because Teacher Kelly warned them about it as if it were the 21st century version of the bubonic plague.
I may have also told her that her arms and legs would fall off if she touched it.
Her fear of the lethal shrub easily trumped her loyalty to Cotton Candy. She said one last goodbye and tossed him/her into the stream.
Still sobbing and shaking somewhat uncontrollably, she made her way back to her Crocs and placed them on her feet.
She sulked up the rocks and towards the trail.
Ashlyn was there waiting, still mumbling about ice cream. She did, however, pause to help console her big sister.
Although I think she was just ushering her to the car to get to the mint chip faster.
And here we are, 45 minutes later. Still noticeably distraught, eating ice cream at Nan and Pops.
Please direct your attention to the right hand. Pretending, wishing, dreaming she is still holding a frog. Such a sad life.
Moral of the story, as I type with blistery, rash-covered, oozing arms on Mother's Day.
Tadpoles are like poison oak leaves. Let them be.