A few years ago, it was the high-season of pets in our home. I know it always appears that way to those that know us well, but this particular season we owned two dogs, a cat, two lovebirds and two hermit crabs. The kids were thrilled with all of the living creatures around us, though it seems all I did was clean up after more critters than the three required by law. Sadie was particularly fond of her hermit crab although their lack of activity, their stench and well, boring lifestyle made it a mystery to me.
It was a Sunday morning during this season. Well, actually, it was one of those Sunday mornings. You know the kind - the one where you break every cardinal sin, or at least think of them, before you reach the church doors? From the moment you wake, the kids are fighting, your husband has a headache and the irony of the snipping, snapping, arguing does not escape you on this, "the Lord's day."
Your squalling and fretting continue even when you enter the church parking lot, and as the doors of the van slide open you try to put on that "happy" church face where all appears calm and perfect, and none of the struggles that plagued you just a second ago are visible. Wetting your hand to try to smooth the obvious bed-head still evident on your children. What wetness remains you use to wipe off the last bit of sugary stickiness from the breakfast consumed just a few minutes earlier.
You quickly shove the kids in their age-appropriate classrooms and arrive at the sanctuary doors out of breath realizing that you still have the diaper bag in hand. Back to the children's wing you go.
And this is the set up of today's chapter in, "The Enigma that is Sadie." I had forgotten about it until recently and as I recounted it to several friends, I was told it was definitely blog material.
After the sermon was over, I collected my three children. As we maneuvered down the packed church hallway, I noticed that something dropped to the floor from Sadie's vicinity and subsequently rolled slightly away. I stopped. I peered. I sucked in every bit of breath in the area. It was...a hermit crab. Yes, my dear little Sadie had brought a pet to church unbeknownst to me and against every rule we have on bringing items from home to church. I mistakenly believed that if the rule pertained to inanimate objects, i.e. purses, toys, lip gloss, then surely it was clear that animate, living, breathing pets were as well. I was wrong.
I ran to retrieve the hermit crab before he was stepped on by the stampede of adult and children's feet. Face it, one blow and he would be squashed out of existence. With one quick swoop I clutched him in my fist and turned to face the child responsible. I am sure the look on my face was not a pretty one, possibly the devil incarnate. But then, I realized something more shocking than the fact that our crustacean was a guest that morning. Well, the term "guest" implies that it was somewhat voluntary and clearly, the hermit crab had no say so in the matter.
What dawned on me was that Sadie did not have any pockets on her dress that morning. She did not have a purse in which to store the hermit crab either, because that was against our rule. Here was the quick, ensuing interview:
Me: Sadie, where did you have the hermit crab?
Wait for it...wait for it...
Sadie: In my panties.
Oh, my. Oh, MY! Yes, think about it for a moment. That meant that my child had crabs in a bizarrely and strangely and perplexing way. I was at a complete loss.
Speechless, I thrust the crab into the diaper bag I was still lugging around for Lily's sake and I quickly herded the children to the car. The ride home was quiet, the calm before the storm. At home we silently filed inside. The rest of the day was quite unremarkable, until dinner. It was at that point in time when I realized I had left the diaper bag in the car and the hermit crab contained within. Racing to the car I discovered that the crab had, in fact, escaped the confines of the diaper bag. I spent the next 30 minutes crawling around the floor of the van, flashlight in hand, searching for this "beloved pet." I finally discovered him, clinging to the bottom of the driver's seat. Still living? Yes. Traumatized? Oh, most definitely!
It is no surprise that he met his demise just a few days later. I decided not to tell the children right away, just to see how long it took them to notice he was missing. It took them exactly 16 days. Clearly, we were all over "the crabs."