Monday, July 13, 2009

Tadpole kisses

The day before yesterday Emma asked me to step into the kiddie pool with her and I hesitated because it was loaded with tadpoles. This happens every summer. I fill up the pool for the kids to play in, they have a fantastic day splashing around in the sun, and drinking from the hose, then the pool sits out for a couple of days and WHAMO! We walk outside one morning and find a pool full of tadpoles. It's like a pregnant frog hides in the grass somewhere just waiting for the pool to lie low a few hours so she can jump in there, have her babies, then sit back and say, "Go ahead! Dump the pool! Kill all of my children! I dare you!" And we don't. We just can't.

So what are we doing with our summer now? A lot of tadpole study. We're watching them grow from little sperm-like things, to much uglier, fatter, tear drop shaped creatures with legs and googly eyes. Emma and Christopher like to step inside the pool with them, a kind of "swimming with the dolphins" experience in our own backyard. When Emma invited me to get in there with them I curled my lip at the idea. Not only is it loaded with tadpoles, but the water is greenish-yellow and there's some sort of fuzzy green stuff floating around, which I think is what the critters are feeding off of. But the kids have been going through so much disappointment lately that I had a hard time saying no.

Chris and I are splitting up. I know it must be strange to announce this on my blog, in the middle of a tadpole post, but really there is no good time to bring this up. And I won't go into details but let's just state the obvious and say that it's hard and painful for all of us. We've pushed back his move-out date a couple of times but now it's officially August 2nd, and in the mean time we're all in this strange, painful limbo.

We're trying to make the things as easy on the kids as possible. Not fighting in front of them, letting them know they're loved and all of that stuff. One thing I need to work on is remembering to not take out the stress on them, or to just walk around constantly stressed out. They're learning right now, right at this very minute, how to handle stress and they're taking tips from me whether I like it or not.

That's why I decided to get into the tadpole pool with Emma when she asked me to. At first I said no and then I thought, "What am I gonna say? No, I'm kinda busy. I'm going to go look at our family pictures, cry, and feel sorry for myself." So I stepped into the pool, and for a few seconds I regretted it. The water was warm, and I imagined that I was wading in an enormous puddle of baby frog pee. As I slid my feet acoss the bottom of the pool, I stirred up all that green fuzzy stuff it settled on top of my feet, like slimy dust bunnies. The tadpoles darted away from me like they were little Japanese people and I was Godzilla.

"Stand still," Emma said. "They'll come up to you if you stand still."

"I'm good," I said. "They can stay over there and I'll stay right here, you know. Diggin' the slime."

"But they tickle your toes!" she squealed. "It's like they give little kisses! Stand still!"

I stood still. She just seemed too delighted by the idea of it to refuse her. And in a few minutes I understood why. The tadpoles got curious about those size 11's standing in the middle of their pool, and they swam up to investigate. The way the tadpoles investigate you is they mosey on over and nibble your feet. And it really does feel like tiny, tickly kisses! In a few mimutes Emma and I were both standing still in the pool giggling while swarms of tadpoles kissed our feet.

Maybe this will be something she remembers. I can't control that though, what my children will rememeber out of all of this, and what they're going to feel and learn. But I'm going to remember it, how on an excruciatingly painful morning, when I was feeling like a failure as a spouse and a mother, I took a break and giggled in the backyard with my daughter. She's a good kid.