Saturday the boys and I were at a cousin’s house for a family party. There were many kids, enough that they formed a sort of gang. The gang galloped through the groups of adults, knocking over drinks and bewildering the old people. Ok, mostly Raphael knocked over the drinks. He was sort of the shining apex of their juvenile destructiveness. Still.
At one point all of them swarmed into the basement. After a few minutes Max came racing upstairs, his face shining with utter joy.
“Tre needs you to come downstairs RIGHT NOW.” To make sure I didn’t miss his point, he took me by the arm and leaned hard toward the basement. I followed obligingly, to find a huddle of kids peering under a chair. I knelt down and there was Tre, his hands cupped around a tiny little toad. He looked up at me, grinning like he’d discovered diamonds in the basement.
“It’s a TOAD, Mama,” he explained, “And there’s a TON of them down here.” On my left another little toad hopped away, and Raphael took off after it. I chased him down, begging him not to step on the toad. He didn’t, and soon Uncle Dennis came downstairs with a bucket. All the children proceeded to collect all the toads they could find, and for the rest of the party they played with them. They would pick them up and hand them to random adults, hoping against hope that the toad would pee on them. Which, I might add, they often did. These seemed to be well hydrated toads.
Before long Tre and Max cornered me with the good news that Aunt Bonnie told them they could TAKE SOME TOADS HOME with them. They grinned and shook their heads, unable to believe the good news. I took sweet Bonnie by the arm and hissed in her ear, “You know, I can’t quite find the words to thank you. But I WILL. OH YES, I WILL.”
Well, we came home with five toads. One of them didn’t make it through the night, but we now have four happy toads living in our family room. The boys are thrilled. Our neighbor across the street kindly gave me a leftover can of CANNED CRICKETS to feed the toads, but warned me that her daughter’s toad didn’t like the canned kind. Oh yes, they prefer the live kind, they do.
Well, our toads also ignored the canned crickets, although I can’t imagine why. I mean, I’m sitting here, looking at the can, and it says RIGHT THERE that the crickets have “Natural Juices Locked in the Can!” Isn’t that just what you want in a canned cricket? Fortunately, the can also warns, “Not for Human Consumption,” so I was able to refrain from sprinkling them over the salad for extra protein.
But since the toads wanted nothing to do with the canned crickets (Product of Indonesia, I kid you not), Dad took Max and Raphael to the pet store to purchase some LIVE crickets. They got ten tiny ones and two fairly good sized ones. I thought Raphael was going to keep the big ones as pets, but he wanted to feed them to the toads too.
Heck if those toads didn’t eat EVERY SINGLE CRICKET. And quickly too. We missed the entire meal. But the next day I found all three boys racing for the toad aquarium with a great deal of excitement. It seems Max had caught a fly in his bug house, and they were going to feed it to the toads.
They released the fly in with the toads and we all stood around, holding our breaths. The fly would buzz down within inches of a toad’s nose, then dart away at the last minute. Finally it flew just a shade too close, and a toad leaped up and snapped it right out of the air.
We all cheered.
Toads, it turns out, are very exciting pets.