Friday, October 19, 2007

The Origin of Sea-Monkeys

"Mommy," said Emma with an air of affected nonchalance. "Could you read this?"

I took from her hands a paper entitled The Origin of Sea-Monkeys, which had come with said sea-monkeys.

I read the first paragraph:

Sea-Monkeys are a true miracle of nature. They exist in suspended animation inside their tiny eggs for many years. The instant-life crystals, in which the eggs are enclosed, preserve their viability and help to extend still further their unhatched life span! Sea-Monkeys are real Time-Travelers asleep in biological time capsules for their strange journey into the future.

I glanced up at her. She was trying to appear casual, but her eyes were wide with excitement.

She had obviously read the paper, and while I was impressed that my first-grader had read all of it, she was impressed by the idea of sea-monkey time travel.

I did my best to explain what they meant by calling them "time-travelers," but I don't think she really listened. The big words, and the fact that I had read it out loud, convinced her of the absolute literal truth.

Now both of my children have a habit of loving animals, including tiny, time-traveling brine shrimp, to death. So it was with very little surprise that I discovered the little tank full of water which should have contained three sea monkeys, but didn't.

Jethro quizzed the girls about it, and Emma finally said she thought she spilled some water from the tank onto the floor. But she couldn't explain how the carpet was dry, and she had no idea what happened to the sea-monkeys. Gwennie earnestly denied any participation whatsoever. It was all very mysterious.

Later that night I was tucking Emma into bed.

"Mama?" she whispered as I was about to close the door. "I didn't see them leave, but I think they did."

"Who leave?" I asked, knowing full well.

"The sea-monkeys."

The light from the hallway shone in her eyes and they were strangely bright.

"Good-night, Little Emma," I said.

"Good-night, Mama."

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