Requiem for a Tadpole

Just over a week ago I wrote about Anders' new tadpole. After much deliberation, he ended up choosing the name "Kitty" for it (since it's a leopard frog and he likes irony).

Maybe I shouldn't have written about the tadpole and how pets teach us about life and death. My wife just noted how I foreshadowed it's demise by doing so. If gods of fate exist, I apparently taunted them with that post.

A couple nights ago, my wife and I were noticing the tadpole wasn't moving. Now, it's not easy to tell with tadpoles if they're alive or not. They don't move much in the first place. It's also not easy to detect movement on something the size of a pencil's eraser. The next day it was evident that the little guy hadn't moved from the spot he had been in previously.

We had carefully approached this with Anders, knowing he would take it with great sensitivity. As we were looking in the water together and I was noting that Kitty wasn't moving, he just said he didn't want to hear any more--acknowledging the possibility, but declaring that he wasn't able to deal with it at the moment.

We finally got around to having a funeral tonight. He didn't want to go the route of flushing it down the toilet or anything like that. He wanted to bury the little amphibian in the yard. Which of course isn't really possible in Minnesota in February.

So he and I walked out to the garden. He shoveled down as far as he could--still hopeful that he could reach dirt, but only hitting ice beneath the snow. There we placed Kitty. I said a little prayer on Anders' behalf. He wanted to say a few words. I wish I had a better memory to be able to repeat what he said. It dealt with missing Kitty...how Kitty was a good pet...how he hopes his next pet will live longer. It's probably for the best that I can't remember his eulogy verbatim. Those are sacred words best left for the moment.

Anders took it all fairly well. He shed several tears, of course. We explained that it wasn't because of anything he did--that tadpoles seldom make it to the frog stage--though I think he has some self-blame. He's disappointed that he's allergic to cats.

* * * * *

My wife visited a pet store the night we suspected that Kitty had passed on. I confess that the thought of just replacing Kitty with another tadpole crossed my mind. They didn't have any in stock.

The lady at the pet shop told my wife that it is very rare that a tadpole lives long enough to become a frog. This, of course, is something that the sellers of the tadpole habitat don't tell you. We'll maybe try to find a tadpole in a pond this summer, or just a grown frog.

Rethink it if you're ever considering buying a tadpole habitat for a child. Stick to sea monkeys or ant farms. It seems with smaller animals, you're better off with something that comes in numbers.

* * * * * 

Anders asked something about if Kitty would be in Heaven. We talked about how after God created animals--and everything He made--He said it was "good." We decided that all good things would be in Heaven.

I think there's a place for Kitty in Heaven. I think God would even enjoy having the fun of having a leopard frog named Kitty around. I think God would delight in the life of a frog (and pre-frog) as Anders did. I believe God loves life--even the life of a miniscule little tadpole.

May we do the same.

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