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Fayette-Mom: The monster ... or hermit crab ... in the other room

Posted October 31, 2011

Jennifer Joyner

Mommy confession time: I don’t like “critters."

And by critters, I mean anything with four or more legs, in any size, shape or habitat.

And by “don’t like,” I mean I have to take several deep breaths whenever I am around any type of critter and I have been known to hyperventilate if I am not fully prepared for critters, and sometimes, the very thought of critters makes me have a full-blown panic attack.

I should probably seek some help for this, I know. Especially since I have kids, and my kids love any and all critters and no matter how many shades of purple I turn, they don’t really understand how or why I don’t love critters, too.

And so it is that we don’t have pet hamsters and there won’t be a family parakeet in our house. We do have a dog, but my kids can just forget the kitten/rabbit/feret of their dreams. I just … can’t.

So you can imagine how perplexing it is for me that we are now the proud owners of a hermit crab.I’m shivering just typing the words.

It all happened in a fog: We were at the beach, and Grandma was with us, and Grandma is incapable of saying no and gosh, Mom, they are so cheap! Can I, can I please????

And I guess I was feeling guilty about having to save money on vacation and saying no way more than I wanted to, and really, can I make all my kids’ dreams come true for less than ten bucks????

My daughter promised me that she would keep the hermit crab in her room and I wouldn’t have to feed it or deal with it or even look at it. And by gosh, she’s seven years old, so of course I can totally believe her.

Like I believed her when she told me that hermit crabs only live, on average, for about three months.

All of you experienced parents, or even just people with a brain, are out there laughing at me right now.

Because that was July and now it’s November and the hermit crab is expected to live, oh, about two more years or so.

And yes, my daughter takes care of it, except when it keeps her up at night by digging around in its rocks, so she moves it out of her room, right where it can surprise me when I wake up for work every morning at 4 a,m.

Do you know how hard it is to not scream and wake up your whole family when you are confronted with your one of your worst fears???

And can you imagine how dumb I feel when it happens over and over again?

Two years? I’ll never make it.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.



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  • kittiboo Nov 2, 2011

    I've had hermit crabs- I used to like them until the HUGE one I had in my classroom got ahold of my palm as I was showing him off to a group of Kindergarteners. Those kids almost got a lesson in 4 letter words!

    I've had the African dwarf frogs, too. They are neat little creatures! I had no idea they could live for so long. My students constantly asked me if they were dead because they tend to stay frozen in one position.

  • qrbyrd Nov 1, 2011

    We had already done the hermit crab thing twice, so about 5 years ago we were at the beach and my son wanted african dwarf frogs. We got 2 of them. The other day at PetSmart the employee informed me these frogs can live up to 17 years! We have only had them 5, my son will be gone off to college and I will still have these frogs. LOL

  • kellypratz Nov 1, 2011

    my daughters have 3 hermit crabs and they have outlived some of our goldfish. I've had them for about a year now and they are still going strong. they are harmless creatures.

  • sat123 Nov 1, 2011

    We had hermit crabs when I was little, they usually only lived a couple months, possibly because we bought them at one of the giant stores'o'junk at the beach.

    Would it help to get better acquainted with the critter? Hold him in your hands, feel him tickle your palms with his little feet. They're not bad, and (unless you have an unusually large one) the claw won't hurt if it decides to pinch. Have your daughter dry him off and leave him in a debris-free spot outside his cage for a little while, so he's not wet.

    My husband insists on greeting every animal by name. We honeymooned on an island that had a population of hermit crabs (or, "Mister Hermit Crab", to husband), and he decided to pick one up. I didn't know until that point that he is actually a little scared of hermit crabs, and since I had several as a child, I found it funny. Funnier still was how he held it like it was ten times larger than it actually was, all the while accusing it of treachery and squawking at it.

  • outlawtaxi Nov 1, 2011

    Give your daughter a designated place to put the crab when she needs to move him out of her room at night; then you'll always know where to expect it to be and it won't startle you. Then just pretend that it is a shell; you won't see the crab itself very much anyway. We have one, along with 3 parakeets, a cockatiel, 3 cats, a dog, 2 frogs,and a box turtle.We had a hamster; but he died about the time the crab came along.