A Mortality of a New Pet

For his birthday this past summer my oldest son received a frog habitat from my parents. We waited until summer travels where done to order the free tadpole that came with it (which of course, we had to pay shipping on, of course)--actually, it may have been more like October when I got around to order it.

Apparently, the tadpoles only hatch/ship in the winter and spring months. It just arrived today (it doesn't seem to me that shipping a tadpole in January in Minnesota is the best idea, but it arrived just fine).

Anders couldn't sleep tonight. He just came down a little after 9pm. He was worried about his tadpole (which he spent his reading time thinking up names for in bedtime). It's supposed to be in non-chlorinated water, which we didn't have on hand so we melted some snow to use instead. He's worried it's going to die.

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Several years ago a friend left us a baby painted turtle that wandered into their house. Anders called it "Muddy" thinking initially that it was a mud turtle. We had it for a few weeks before it died.

Anders is a sensitive child. Most movies make him cry. He has a caring, tender heart. He cried most of the day that Muddy died. That's one of the hard parts of having a pet.

Allergies and asthma exist in our household so we haven't had pets around. I grew up on a farm and all of our pets were outdoor pets (with a few rare exceptions) and we tamed a couple outdoor kittens when we lived on a farm when Anders was very little; I don't want to deal too much with having a pet in the city. So, the tadpole will be our first household pet.

I hope it teaches him some responsibility--feeding, changing the water, etc. A tadpole/frog isn't a very cuddly pet, obviously, but I know he'll come to be attached to it. At some point we'll have to deal with death, which is always a good thing for a child to learn about and discuss.

He hasn't experienced the funeral of a close relative or friend since he was young. He's already fretting about his tadpole dying. He knows about death on a more-or-less impersonal basis. He hears about it on the news. It's come up in church--especially at Easter. We seldom address it with children, but I think it's always good to not hide the fact of our mortality. It is best to teach children how to live in the face of death, rather than denying it exists. It isn't easy--tears will be shed at some point. I think, however, that that sadness shows us that death isn't meant to be the end of it all. It's an opening discussion for the afterlife.

However long this tadpole lives, it's going to give us a few lessons in life--as well as joys and tears. All because of a little frog.

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