Tuesday, January 4, 2011

But mom, they're only eight dollars

My entry for the 100 words for $100 blogfest is here

When my eight year old daughter announced that she'd love to get a hermit crab, I smiled and nodded. Like most childhood yearnings, I figured the love would pass if I gave it a little time. After all, we already have a dog and fish, and she has her own aquarium full of fish in her already cramped room.

Then, this year, she ended up getting her first grade teacher, the one that had introduced her to hermit crabs, as her third grade teacher. While this teacher no longer has the hermit crabs, I was persuaded to inquire as to the care and expense of those little shelled beasties. I was told it was easy, they were cheap and didn't smell. "Don't smell" almost sold me. However, I knew from my son's yearning for an anole (now dearly departed) at the same age, that I'd be the one that very likely ended up taking care of the new creature. I really didn't need more creatures to care for.

We wandered into pet stores over the months to pick up dog and fish supplies. Each time, I'd find her peering into the hermit crab tank.

"But mom, they're only eight dollars. I have eight dollars. Can I get one? Please, please, please?"


For her birthday, she asked for a hermit crab. She didn't get one. Months passed. For Christmas, she asked for a hermit crab. Oh, fine. After all, we already had a vacant ten gallon aquarium and greenery left from our anole adventure. How much more could an eight dollar hermit crab need?

December found me on covert missions to the pet store to price out supplies. I cleaned out our tank and santized it. I cleaned the greenery, climbing log, spray bottle and requiste, shallow stone bowl that had been up in the attic. I purchased a pre-boxed hermit crab kit for $24. Awesome. We're done.

I put everything in the tank, wrap it up all pretty and hide it in my bedroom.

Two days later, it occurs to me that this preboxed kit doesn't include the dirt all the care sheets say they need. I go back to the pet store. Hermit crab soil, $3. Oh, and they need a salt water bowl too, $8. And the sand included in the pre-boxed kit is sized for a tiny plastic tank. I'll need more, $8. They like coconut houses to hide under, $6. That's gotta be all I need. Right?

I sneak all my new stuff in the house, discreetly open the wrapping paper, put the new purchases inside and hide it in the bedroom.

Four days before Christmas it occurs to me that opening an empty tank isn't all that exciting and pet stores will be closed on Christmas. Then I envision getting to the pet store only to find they are sold out of the hermit crabs and my daughter crying. I should really get a hermit crab right now. I sigh, go back to pet store and get the $8 hermit crab. As I'm standing in line, I realize that I don't have anything for top of the tank. Duh. $12 for a screen top.

I creep back into the house, sneak into the attic to get our former cricket keeper container and run to my bedroom. I again open the wrapping paper, put the new top on the tank and close it up. Then I figure out that I'll need the dirt now for the crab to live in while we wait for Christmas. And the food. I bite back a scream, open the wrapping paper again, locate the required items and then hide the crab behind some stuff on my dresser and the tank with the other hidden presents.

Christmas morning finally comes. Squeals of delight fill the house as my daughter opens her hermit crab tank, and then box containing the crab which is soon named 'Shelly'. The tank is gleefully set up. Shelly is released. Hooray!

The next morning I am informed that, "Shelly is lonely. The care instructions say they like friends. I still have $8, can we go pick out a friend?"

At this point, everything is set up and she's got the $8. I shrug. The pet store people about know me by name now. "Sure, why not?"

The pet store only has two crabs left to choose from. She picks a rainbow shelled crab, soon to be named, 'Wiggly'.

I notice that the tank we get the crab from is nice and warm. I remember reading that humidity is important and our house is incredibly dry. If we want healthy, happy crabs, we'll need a heater. The ten gallon sized heater is $24. I bow my head and take a deep breath.

"Mom, look! We need to get a pretty shell in case they want to change shells."

Of course we do. Spare shell, $3.

"Mom, do we have salt water? The ones in the tank do."

I'd remembered to buy the bowl for the salt water, but not the solution to make it. Yet another smack the forehead moment. Bottle of salt water, $4.

"I don't think they like the powder food we have. Shelly didn't touch it."

Shelly hadn't touched it in five days. I had to agree. Bottle of pellet hermit crab food, $5. The misting bottle we had was also missing its spring and no longer sprayed. New misting bottle, $5.

$110 later, I have two happy hermit crabs, one ecstatic daughter, and I am duly reminded that nothing ever costs "only eight dollars."


  1. Us kids really have no idea the trouble you wonderful mothers go to every day to please us.

  2. Motherhood has it's challenges, that's for sure. Good thing it's mostly rewarding. ;)

  3. And I thought it was only airlines that had perfected the art of the hidden extras.

  4. HA! It would seem they are not alone.

  5. Loved your story :) I got my first hermit crab when my brother and his wife came back from Ocean City. I was 12. I'm now 42 and still have hermit crabs! We have other pets, dogs, birds, but the crabs are definately the easiest to care for and pretty cool to watch. I hope i've passed on my love for crabs to my kids! hope your experience is just as fun!!

  6. Thanks for visiting jamison42. :) She's still loving them, (and mostly caring for them on her own) so I think we have a winner.


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