Saturday, July 7, 2007

Of Guppies and 9 Year Old Girls

Two things are weighing on my mind currently. The first is that my 9 year-old is out on her first long distance foray into the real world with one of her friends. It's not as though they caught the bus to go downtown. They have walked about thirty minutes down the road to a discount candy store. But you know how a maternal mind works. It's a brilliant sunny day out (perfect pervert weather) and they are at a candy store (where would you loiter around looking for helpless little girls if you were a pervert?). When the friend appeared this morning asking if Reno could go to get candy with her I must have looked very forbidding because both girls launched into highly polished speeches on 1. the intended destination, 2. what they would do there, 3. How they would get there (by foot not bicycle as they conceded that perhaps bicycles mightn't be safe) and 4. Their ETR (estimated time of return).

So, after I hung her mobile phone around her neck and secured it by clipping it onto her belt loops as well. . . I waved them off down the road. God I wish I could put homing devices in the kid's molars.

So far I have called her twice. Once to make sure they were on target (still headed to the same location) and now once again to be sure she hasn't forgotten the promised ETR, which she had indeed already forgotten so we have moved it forward by thirty minutes.

If I seem controlling or overprotective, well by Japanese standards I am! One of the kids' favorite T.V. programs is "Hajimette Otsukai" (first time to help MoM) where mothers send off children as young as 5 to go down to the corner store or over to the nearby fish market etc. to buy something and bring it back home. The kids cross busy roads, train tracks, go through tunnels. . . with undercover camera men/women filming the whole escapade of course. One time the program featured two 5 year old boys who took a train all by themselves to another town to go to their former preschool teacher's house to give her a present. And on a day to day basis it is not uncommon for mothers to leave young children home alone while they do the grocery shopping and other neighborhood errands. Latch key kids here can be as young as 6 and no one blinks an eye. (Except for me. I stand around batting them both manically as though someone has poured lemon juice in my eyes.)

In my case, I can not erase the ominous warnings branded on my brain in my early days of motherhood by helpful books like "What to Expect The First Year". There the authors advise you not to leave your baby unattended even to just pop out and check the post because you never know when a fire might break out or an earthquake might hit.

However, as Reno gets older she is starting to chaff at the bit a little and I don't want her to suddenly up and turn into a Harajuku Girl on me in an act of teenage rebellion later so I am trying to learn to stand back a bit and let her get on with this growing up stuff. Safely.

The other issue weighing on my mind at the moment is the reproductive abilities of guppies. Are they like aquatic mice? Little water bunnies? The girls, who deftly went behind my back and wheedled their father into doing this, got two new fish for the ill-fated fish tank. Two guppies: a girl and a boy. Last night at about 11:00 p.m. Reno came down stairs and crept up behind me to announce in a weary yet proud little voice, "Well I have some fantastic news. We have baby fish!" As I was in the middle of brushing my teeth when she made this announcement I spit and replied, "Impossible. You have to get a little breeding side thingy and do all sorts of special things to get fish to reproduce. Must be mildew growing in the tank." She looked crestfallen and retreated upstairs.

As I went up the stairs minutes later I heard the following monologue coming from her room, "oooooohhhh aren't you cute? Don't hide behind the rock!" With a bit of trepidtion I wondered, What? She's talking to mold? My daughter can't tell the difference between slime and a fish? I didn't want that to be true but still just thinking it was wishful thinking.

When I went in and investigated the proud new owner of baby guppies introduced me to the "brood." They are too tiny and dart around so quickly we can't quite get an accurate count. Anywhere between four and six I think.

So now I'm caught up between two fears. The first being that Daddy guppy or Mommy guppy will eat their offspring and thus devastate my two offspring. The second being that the baby guppies will survive and grow up and make more baby guppies. Will I end up having to tie little bags of guppies to go mercilessly throw into the local river?

Who knew. . . so was it a freak of nature or do guppies reproduce at the drop of a hat? Who knew.


Claire said...

I think you're going to have lots of guppy babies! Apparently they "reproduce with reckless abandon"!

Maybe you need two tanks, like kabutomushi, to keep their reckless urges under control...

Christelle said...

Good luck with the guppies- they are beautiful fish to watch. Too bad you can neuter fish eh? Speaking of which, I'm taking Calico cat in to get neutered before sending her off to a new home. Wouldn't want any cute kittens to be sharing her fate of being homeless.
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