Friday morning was our last day at the beach. We awoke to an overcast, drizzling sky, so we packed the car and took one last trip to the boardwalk before driving home. We told the kids that they could each pick one souvenir, and Davud immediately starting hitting us up for a hermit crab.
Now, you see, years ago we had a hermit crab. He met with a rather unfortunate demise. It might have had something to do with a toilet, but I’m not giving away any more than that.
The problem with “Hermie” was that somehow I ended up being his sole caretaker. His home was on my kitchen counter, and soon he became nothing more than another item of clutter around which I had to clean. David had lost interest in his little pet, to the point that when I finally rid my house and my kitchen counter top of the stinky little crustacean, it took David WEEKS before he even thought to ask what happened to his “friend”.
So when he first mentioned wanting a new hermit crab when we were at the shore this week, my initial reaction was something like, “Not until H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks freezes over!”
But as the week wore on, he was persistent without being whiny or disrespectful, so we finally relented. After all, he is three years older than he was when we brought Hermie home to be his first pet. Now he is old enough to take care of one by himself. And since I have no intention of ever bringing a cat or a dog to live under my roof (or a bird or a hamster or even an iguana, for that matter), maybe a friendly li’l hermit crab would be a good pet.
We agreed that David will keep the new hermit crab in his room, thus leaving my kitchen counters free of unnecessary clutter in the form of smelly little sea creatures, and he will be solely responsible for caring for it. If the crab doesn’t survive, we won’t be replacing it.
Needless to say, David was thrilled. And of course, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, Caroline was begging for a hermit crab as well, but I was quick to inform her that when she is seven years old, she can have a hermit crab of her very own. Surprisingly, this answer satisfied her, and she settled for a new Ocean City sweatshirt as her souvenir.
As we were sitting at the Mack and Manco Pizza joint, waiting for our lunch and watching the “pizza man” put on a show of tossing and twirling the pizza dough high in the air, David said to his little sister in that patronizing tone that only an older sibling can affect, “Caroline, this can be our hermit crab. We can share him, and you can help me feed him and water his sponge. And you can play with him too.” To which she responded something equally sweet and agreeable.
Then the stars aligned, the angels sang, and everything was right with the world as my children experienced a rare moment of peace and harmony.
So we had our pizza and then walked down to “Ocean Treasures”, where David picked out a small hermit crab in a bright red shell and a blue wire cage.
On the way home, amazingly, peace and harmony persisted as the children passed the little blue cage back and forth between their seats, discussing how to properly care for our newest little family member and planning to show him to all their friends as soon as we arrived home.
As I dozed in the front seat, I overheard the following question from Caroline to David: “Am I gonna be the mom of him and you gonna be the dad of him?”
Um, well, something like that.