On Thursday night last week, Asher’s teacher called to let me know that his name had been drawn the previous week and that it was his turn to bring home the class pet for the weekend. While I’m not terribly keen on any animal that requires a cage (being that it’s notoriously gross to clean out animal cages) I am intent on being participatory in Asher’s school stuff and thus gave a cheery response that we were looking forward to it. I didn’t realize that they even had a class pet (it’s a big room with various aquariums. Aquariums, I have learned, are integral to the preschool experience.) and asked his teacher, “what kind of pet is it?” and she responded that it was a frog named Shimmer and that Shimmer would be coming to us with a book so that we could record her adventures while she was with us. With devious images of a frog cage filled with booze and barbies in bikinis flashing through my mind, I said that we would dutifully show Shimmer a good time and record her ‘adventures’ for the weekend and then we hung up.
On Friday I reminded Asher that we were bringing Shimmer home and sure enough that afternoon there was a small but heavy black backpack hanging on his hook. I was informed that Shimmer was in the bag.
Here, dear readers, is where I made my first mistake. I did not open the backpack to examine Shimmer and I did not inquire as to what Shimmer would be eating, her zodiac sign, her favorite Beatle, or any other useful piece of biographical information. We are raising a child with moderate success, I assumed that we could wing taking care of a frog for the weekend. Plus I had already been told that there was a book in there and I figured that if the frog had a gluten sensitivity or an aversion to broad spectrum light it would be mentioned. It’s fair to say that I assumed much in this situation.
So we’re driving home and I briefly thought about the frog and wondered if it would be expensive to find its identical twin should anything unexpected occur, and then I got hot and tossed my jacket on the passenger seat (covering the backpack) and then I forgot about the frog.
Drew was working on Friday and I had plans to meet some ladies to see Silver Linings Playbook (really enjoyed it) so I was dropping Asher off with my parents where Drew would retrieve him on the way home from work. It’s been a balmy 20 degrees here for about a week and it had snowed a little earlier in the day, but the roads were fine, so after a kiss on Asher’s cheek I headed back out the door, excited to be going to a grown up movie with other grown ups who like grown up things.
I was cruising along happily until I got to the main road and looked over to see the black backpack still in the car with me. Shimmer. Given that it was only in the twenties and that Shimmer was likely used to the tropics, I knew that three hours in the freezing cold would not end well for the old girl. I dutifully turned around and drove back to my mother’s house to deposit the frog in the warm non-frog-killing climate that they enjoy and let my friends know that I was now running behind because of the turn-around. Once at my parent’s house, I got concerned that the frog might have already gone on to the great Frog Spirit In The Sky in the hour that she had spent in the freezing car, and thought that we better face the truth now in case I was going to need to call the teacher and run a recon mission to a pet store that night. Shock doesn’t really describe what I felt when we opened the backpack at my parent’s house and discovered that indeed the frog was not alive.
Ya’ll, meet Shimmer:
I share this story with all of you as a cautionary tale to prevent any epic parent-teacher miscommunications coming your way. In hindsight it seems very obvious that a three year old would not be sent home with a living creature, though I distinctly remember strapping my parents with a smelly fat hamster a time or two when I was of a class pet age. And to be fair, at no point did I ask about care instructions, mating habits, or anything else that might have led to the teacher telling me that Shimmer was a stuffed animal but…doesn’t that seem like something that would be put on the table from the get go? Would you be willing to take the class pet WHO IS A GIGANTIC STUFFED FROG WEARING A TUTU home for the weekend? Maybe just some friendly air quotes when the word “pet” was mentioned?
We all had a good laugh about it and I’ll be the first to say that I was thrilled with the way things worked out. Asher made quite a splash with his gigantic tie dyed frog at lunch on Saturday and all in all, the class pet is welcome at our house any time. Especially now that I know I can leave it in the car. Which I would never, ever do.