You'd think the four year old would be growing more sensible by now. A friend with boys tells me it's quite usual for them not to think out the consequences of their actions, and when I look at Ste, I can believe it. But I still thought he had a bit of gumption.
The Glamorous Next-Door Neighbour was heading through the flickering snow to her in-laws' holiday home up north today. She knocked on our door with two slim plastic fishtanks in her hand, about the size and shape of our modem.
'These are the boys' sea monkeys,' she said. 'Their dad says they'll be ok with us away the week, but I don't want them to starve. They only need a bit every other day. Will you have them, so?'
It seemed reasonable enough.
'In the light,' she said.
The kitchen window-sill, I thought, away from the littlest one's clumsy hands. I put them on the trunk we use as a coffee table and picked the boy in question up.
'Just a wee bit of this on the spoon thing,' she said, showing me a measuring spoon that looked like a doll's house tablespoon.
'Sure they'll be fine,' she said, and trip-trapped down the front steps in her knee high boots with the killer heels, waving cheerfully through the snow.
I waved, equally cheerfully, and turned back into the room to find the four year old had picked up one of the tanks and was shaking it as if it were a snow globe. Water splashed out of the holes in the lid. He looked startled when I made a noise like a cat when its tail is trodden on, and put it down quickly. I dropped to my knees and searched the wet patches on the rug for any signs of feeble movement, but couldn't see any of the little semi-transparent blighters - would I have done anyway? And just what I could do if I did find one microscopic little escapee/victim, I'm not sure. To my relief, it looked as though he hadn't succeeded in shaking any of them out. I peered into the water and held my breath. The murk was beginning to clear; what must be old bits of green foodstuff shimmered snow-like down to the floor of the tank. (I was beginning to see why he might've mistaken it for a toy). Little creatures, smaller than a comma, floated around on what looked like their backs, waving frond-like legs. There didn't seem to be any harm done. It was true, there didn't look as though there were as many as in the other tank. And they were swimming in slightly panicky circles. I wonder if sea monkeys can suffer concussion? But there were still plenty in there, and they were still alive.
Now all I have to do is remember to feed them, and hope they still are by Friday. Let's hope the Glamorous Next-Door Neighbour never decides to go in for a cat...