“I’ll get a Triops kit with the garage sale money.” Sasha, back in Vancouver at the end of August. And what’s wrong with that.

We had the smaller version of those, informally called sea monkeys but they did not make past the first month or so. It clearly said on the box that they live longer. With good care. Talk about feeling inadequate as a sea monkey caregiver.

We fed them the food they brought with them in those little packages. DO NOT OVERFEED! it said right there but since there’s barely any creatures in there it’s easy to assume that barely anything is too much. I really thought we passed the rookie stage successfully that time. We did. Or so we thought.

At least there was no need to recover the bodies once the (un)thinkable happened. Sea monkeys are too small and translucent to be spotted easily. No bodies left behind, a perfect crime if I’ve ever seen one (I haven’t, really, aside from the occasional mosquito swapping but that’s a society crime if we’re judging it as such.)

So the time has come for us to try again. Sasha’s relentlessness is not new to me. A good trait to have in life. We will make it work this time, the oversized sea monkeys (can’t see how they got this name in the first place, no relation to monkeys, no resemblance.) Regardless. Fifteen dollars later and confident, we set to work. We follow the detailed instructions. Religiously does not emphasize enough the meticulous triple reading of every word that I went through. Just to make sure. Use spring water only. Check. Don’t allow temperature to fluctuate, the slightest change can affect the eggs. You do not need to know how frightening small those eggs are, you really do not. Don’t overpopulate they said. As if. Add grated fresh carrot. Check. The plastic container we’re supposed to use gives me the creeps as it is that no-number-God-knows-what-bad-stuff-is-in-it. I promise to move them to a jar as soon as they are old enough. For now Sasha does not want to go off the beaten path. Beaten? I really want to know who made it work. There must be some Merlin award I’ll never get close to.

The first batch started hatching after the predicted four to five days. The tininess is cute and allows me to breathe. We did it! Ta-da! Two days later the questionable plastic container is as empty as the primordial liquid that was to become the soup. Same as before. We have more eggs though. Replay. Three days into it I’m feeling confident. Sasha’s hopeful. An unfortunate spilling of the water paralyzes my thoughts for a good two minutes. What now. What now.

Replay. Third batch of eggs. Last one. The box says the company has a “don’t disappoint the child” policy. If the eggs fail, send two dollars for shipping and they’ll send more eggs. Ha. Doubt, doubt. Set the eggs in, carefully. Sasha’s overseeing the process and hopes are up. Again. And they hatch. Four of them. The next day two are missing in action. Or maybe hiding in the grated carrot. Maybe. The second day we’re back to the pre-primordial quietness. Sasha’s disappointment doubles mine.

Was it us? But how, how did these creatures survive for millions of years yet they cannot make it past the two days in my kitchen. To this day I say it’s the plastic. Having just researched a mountain of studies about plastic and how they affect life (for an article, not for the the monkeys), I will keep that conviction alive, unlike the very tiny creatures I couldn’t.

Prehistoric creature episode might not be over yet. Sasha’s planning a follow up on the “no disappointed child” promise. Until then, I decided to move up the evolution ladder and bring home the fish. Literally.

A betta fish or if you want the more glamorous name, a Siamese fighting fish. Red and bouncy. Ours. He comes with a seven day warranty (the things we think of these days) but his liveliness makes me think we don’t need that plan B. “Mom, he eats dried blood worms. Cool!” It is. Good thing they’re dried to flakes, but you can buy the live ones should that sound like a good idea. Not to me.

Five days and counting, Bubble is swimming happily and blowing bubbles like any respectable fish would. Swallowing blood worms like a true warrior. The boys were beyond surprised and happy when they first saw him. I picked him up just before I had to pick them up from school. A plastic bag with a tight knot at the top, wrapped in newspaper like a one of a kind purchase. “You got a fish? He’s so beautiful, mom!” That he is. He needs a small habitat and likes solitude. Or creates it, as literature informs us. He kills other similar fish that come close. Right on. Prehistoric critters have nothing on him. Not that he would give a frozen blood worm about it anyway…