I admire teachers who have little class pets in their classroom. Well, not really. But, you have to give them some credit for the extra duty contract they take on by hosting live things in their classroom. Someone has to feed them every day. Someone has to change their habitat. And there are benefits. Some children do not have the opportunity to own a pet. And they could, after all, save your life one day, like the little ferret in Kindergarten Cop did. He was hiding in a student’s jacket, and jumped out and bit the bad guy. The little fellow saved the entire school. You know it could happen.
As I walk down the hall each morning, I can see the little habitrails for Mrs. Karr’s hamsters. I don’t know what else she has in her room. I am sure her second graders appreciate having furry little fun. Further on, I can smell the African frog in Mrs. Arthur’s room. She couldn’t find the lttle hopper one morning. An all-points bulletin was put out for him. I have been feeling sorry for the frog for a year or two now. It just sits in a small aquarium, just hanging there, with its face above water. Poor thing. The whole room smells like algae water. Until last week, she finally changed it.
She changed the water and filled it up too high. Somehow overnight, the frog got out of the aquarium via a small hole at the top of the container lid and made a run for it. Well, it made a hop for it. She was shocked. She thought that he should be found dead near the container. I thought for sure it floundered or hopped somewhere in her classroom. The kids would surely find the froggy, dead and covered in dust bunnies. I am positive the frog commited suicide. I mean, if I was that frog, I would have made a hop for it long ago.
It made me think back to Beepo and Geepo. I had always owned weird animals. I had a salamander named Newt. Thumper the skunk joined our household when I was in college. I had Igor the iguana between my hamster Growl Bear and my Guinea pig, Quincy Bozo. I’m surprised my roommates didn’t frown upon the new additions I brought home with me throughout the years. Especially Beepo and Geepo.
Beepo and Geepo were African frogs that I bought when I was in high school. I think I was in high school. My bff Ramaine and I bought them on the same day. I had them forever. One day Beepo died. Or maybe it was Geepo. It was hard to tell them apart. They weren’t wearing collars. They must have been identical twins. My roommate, Paula, started complaining about Beepo/Geepo chirping every night.
“Vickie, your damn toad is chirping. He chirps all night long.”
“Oh, he does not. He is under water. Frogs can’t chirp.” I imagined that maybe he could “blurp.” But, chirp, oh hell no. I also wanted to remind her that there is a difference between a frog and a toad. Get it right, Miss Fairmont State beauty queen.
Well, I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and heard a cricket chirping. Well, I’ll be. Beepo/Geepo was chirping. Aww, he was crying out for his mate. I felt awful for him. So, I made sure that I tapped his glass and paid more attention to him, which is a little hard to do.
I honestly don’t remember how long Beepo/Geepo lived after that. They can live for a long time. Ramaine’s frog lived forever and grew to be the size of a…..baby bullfrog.
So, as I applauded when they found Mrs. Arthur’s African frog alive, I also felt sorry for it. It just hangs there in the water all freaking day…in greenish water with a fake plant nearby. Her class takes turns feeding it and well, that’s all you can do with an African frog. I’m thinking it needs a friend. I’m going to bring that up at the next Faculty Senate meeting. Ok, I sure as hell will not, but dammit, I can’t stand walking by it every day and I know it is lonely. And it makes me think of Beepo and Geepo, circa 1976.
I know that you are probably wondering if I also have class animals in my room, and the answer would be, “Oh, hell yeah.” I have spiders and other crawling things that the kids scream when they see one by their desks. I rescue it with a sheet of notebook paper and put it back on the windowsill. I would not have a class animal because I would not teach. I would be watching that damn rodent going around and around in its wheel. The kids would not be listening to a damn thing I said. I was not attentive when I was a child, so I am sure I would be distracted by a hamster biting at the metal bars trying to get the hell out.
I remember two years ago getting ready to step out into the hall when I noticed something near my feet. Mrs. Arthur also had a damn hermit crab in her classroom that escaped somehow and was walking down the hall. She let the kids decorate its shell, so I could see the shiny sequins as it clawed its way to me. I remember sitting down at lunch, saying, “I almost stepped on Diana’s goddamn hermit crab this morning.” See, it was trying to get the hell out of that classroom. Her gerbil, Digger, escaped for days last year. There is a pattern going on here. I’m thinking pets don’t want to be in Mrs. Arthur’s room and they are planning and executing prison breaks.
I do have a pet panda. I put the Panda Cam from the San Diego Zoo on one of the computers so they can watch the new baby panda. I told them that this was our class pet. They don’t see to have a problem with that at all.
I think about my African frog pets a lot, only because of……….Lonely, the one across the hall. I just named him.