When he left to spend the weekend with grandparents in Waco last Friday, he made a long list of do's and don't's for us on how to care for these little creatures. When Trey asked if he could help, Joshua carefully instructed him on how to care for them ... You can only hold them twice a day. They need one spritz of water in the morning and one in the evening. Be sure to keep my ceiling fan off and turn on the humidifier at night; they need humid air to breathe. Don't give them too much food, but replace it by Sunday or it will get stale. Use the scoop to clean the sand but don't get any sand into their water dish. The water dish has to be cleaned and refilled each day and you can only use de-chlorinated water ... And on and on the list went. So Joshua fare-welled his little pets and went off to spend some time with Gram and Granddad.
On Saturday morning, Trey comes to me and says, "Mom, there's only one crab in the crabitat and I think it's my fault." WHAT!?!? "Well, this morning I tried to take their picture and I accidentally left one out on Joshua's dresser." WHAT?!?! "And he's not there anymore." Really?
Oh. my. So Trey and I spend ALL of Saturday completely tearing Joshua's room apart. We took apart his bed and bedding, pillows and blankets, searched through every stuffed animal, removed ALL the clothes from his dresser, then went through the clothes and re-folded and replaced them. We looked behind and under every piece of furniture and completely removed all items from his closet floor to search as well. We crawled around our house on hands and knees with flashlights looking for the lost crab (who is brown and gray and about the size of a quarter). We locked both dogs up lest the crab become a quick snack or chew toy. We swept under furniture, dusted every dark corner, and searched every nook and cranny of the kids' area of our house. We even called PETCO to see what tips they could provide in our search.
From PETCO, we learned that the crab could live 2-3 days without food and 2-3 days after that, would emit a very prominent rotted fish odor that would ensure that we were able to locate the little crabby corpse. I put Trey on crab-search detail for the rest of the weekend and dreaded telling Joshua that half of his crab pets were now missing in action.
On Sunday, we picked Joshua up. After we heard all about his weekend, he asked about his hermit crabs. Trey was silent. I said, "Joshua, your brother has something to tell you." Trey bursts into tears and tells Joshua that he is so sorry but he was very irresponsible and lost one of the crabs and he was only trying to take a picture but then he got distracted and when he remembered the crab, he went back and it was gone and he had been looking for it all weekend and it just wasn't anywhere and really where could a crab go and he'll still keep looking for it and he's so so so so sorry and to please, please forgive him. Joshua is quiet for just a beat and says, "It's okay, Trey. Everybody makes mistakes."
I'm stunned. Trey is stunned. And Joshua starts asking where we have looked for the crab, where did we see him last, how long can he be lost before he dies ... all in a calm, logical manner that makes me so proud of him I think I'll cry for love of him. Then, Joshua says he's very worried about the crab that is left because they're very social and need companions. So the plan is made to stop by PETCO and get another crab on the way home "just in case" and maybe two crabs "to keep a spare."
Once we're at PETCO, Joshua offers to let Trey name one of the two crabs we purchase. We get them home and acclimated to their new crabitat and all is well. Monday morning is uneventful and the boys get off to school just fine. I decide to get some laundry done and start with a load of towels that has been sadly stacked in my bathroom floor for the past few days. As I'm gathering towels, guess what I discover? Yep, a little brown-and-gray quarter-sized hermit crab snuggled in the towels!! I was so excited and just couldn't wait to tell Joshua ... who couldn't wait to tell Trey.
So, our Great Hermit Crab Escape is over and they all emerged unharmed. I was blessed by my oldest son's concern for how his brother would react, and by my youngest son's great compassionate heart when faced with his brother's irresponsibility. It's funny now and we joke that the little crab who escaped loves telling his crabby friends about his great adventures ... and he surely always ends with, "And if you want to explore, too, just get the big kid to hold you then distract him with something shiny ..."