Named after Rocky Balboa’s turtles, hermit crabs Cuff and Link died under shocking conditions–they froze to death, inside a heated home. How? We painted Jack’s room, and in hopes that paint would dry faster, we left the windows open–for 3 days. My wife and I are up on crab-slaughter charges.
Burial proceedings are callous and curt. Frozen ground prohibits the soil from cleaving, so I grab some crappy wood chips and place them over the huddled couple. At 3 1/2, Jack is unfazed by both their death and this lame ceremony. I must make this meaningful, properly sepulchral.
“Jack, we need a tombstone.”
“What that Daddy?” He’s intrigued, happy.
“It’s a marker, lets us know where we buried them.”
“Ok.” His eyes are wide-open, resembling hard-boiled eggs. We both scour the yard.
We live in a wooded area full of pesky animals. Mr. Raccoon reigns as chief pest. He’s dumped and shredded our garbage effin 100 times. But this time he’s come through–I find a neatly cleaned chicken bone, a big-ass leg bone. The little dents caused by Mr. Raccoon’s teeth make this a perfect tombstone–it’s already engraved!
That might not be a chicken bone.
Jack places the riddled bone and we’re off to Petco for Replacement Crabs®. The guy at the store tells me that hermit crabs are very social, by nature.
“Really? They need a name change.”
He doesn’t laugh. Awkward. Anyway, we buy the new recruits. I’m then given a contract guaranteeing their life expectancy: 15 days. Jeez. What a morbid day. Back in the car, on our way home, Hermit Crabs transporting in what looks like a McDonald’s Happy Meal box.
I thoroughly clean the habitat, a proper welcome for our new occupants. During this routine I’m confronted by a ton of Cuff and Link’s green poop swirls. Time to teach Jack a synonym.
“Jack, wanna know another word for poop?”
“Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” He nearly vomits from excitement.
I drag it out, “Feeecees.”
“Feces!” He’s smiling, like he just landed a date with Angelina Ballerina.
The habitat is clean, and newly named Cooper and Kilo are now home. Nighty-night.
Daybreak begins with drama. Jack wakes me up at 6:03 AM.
“Daddy, you wanna play with my hermit crabs?”
He’s so innocent and eager it’s unbearable. I clear the cobwebs, get up and head for his room. Jack’s already got the lid off, hand inside. I notice one of the crabs, Cooper, inexplicably outside the halved-coconut shell house, loitering by the water feature. Strange behavior. It’s daylight–hermit crabs are nocturnal. And they’re social, right?
Cooper forlorn, at the water feature.
With the indifference of a seasoned reporter, Jack informs me that Cooper “rost his craw.” Jack lifts the coconut. A lone claw remains, Kilo next to it, like a cannibal gloating over prey bones.
Well, this isn’t good.
“What happen, Daddy?” Jack’s not upset, just wants to get the scoop.
I whip up a tale.
“Well, I heard Copper (Jack corrects me, Cooper) and Kilo talking last night. In fact, it was an argument. Cooper was yelling at Kilo for making feces in their new coconut house.”
“Oh.” He’s with me, nodding, wanting more.
“Yeah, so Cooper keeps hollerin’ which makes Kilo mad, because he was already embarrassed about having an accident in the house. Kilo swung his fist at Cooper and chopped off a claw.”
“Oh no.” Jack’s a little upset now. Time to end this twisted fable, make it a teachable moment.
“So, is it ok to have an accident?”
“Right. Good man. Is it ok to hurt someone, even if you’re upset?”
“No.” Jack’s shoulders droop a bit so I distract him with one of my stand-bys.
“Ok, now go do some push-ups.”
“C’mon Dah-deeeee. You silly.” He’s smiling now.
“I know, my man. Time to get dressed for school.”
I dispose of the claw, not wanting any reminders of this horrifying incident, this domestic crab violence. I hope Cooper and Kilo can make-up, eventually strolling crabwise together. Anyway, if they kill themselves within 14 days we get a full refund!
Social? My ass.