Eco Diversity Project

Mon, Oct 12, 2020 5-minute read

My son’s school is running an eco-diversity project. Yes, he is in kindergarten, and he probably doesn’t understand the term yet. But that’s ok. It is more to teach the kids to treat all lives equally. But the thing is this – as with all school projects, there is an implicit acceptance from the parent’s side. As a parent, I am thrilled to see my son participate and learn this stuff. This was stuff I figured for myself when I was 30 and reflecting on life (why at 30 is more or less the theme of this blog!).

Our son had been selling us the idea of having a pet for well over a month. Unfortunately for him, we rent our space and the owners aren’t very up for having a dog or a cat. Well, judge me all you want. But he did convince us and we decided to get him a fish tank. It’s still pending on me, but he will get him soon. But then he told us in bits and pieces about the class having a few pets and how the teachers were going to allow the kids to bring home the pets over weekends. I didn’t get it at all. But I thought maybe they have rabbits, tortoises in the school. Some schools do – apparently, they are somewhat effective in calming children down. I don’t know but I do remember hearing some such thing.

Then we got the circular from the school where my son had volunteered to bring home three of the pets. for a weekend each. Yay! Except, the pets weren’t something I was prepared for. Their list had snails, earthworm, shrimps and frogs. My son had volunteered for everything except earthworm. Apparently, he couldn’t convince his mom that earthworms aren’t all that bad. He knew I would have to sign up anyway. It all added up post-facto. He was convincing how frogs were easy to take care of and how only one of the frogs is jumpy while the rest are toddlers and like to rest a lot. When the circular came, I understood why he sold us on pets. He’ll get his fish tank alright. But more pressing thing is to support him bringing home these eco-divergent pets for a weekend.

Last weekend was his turn to home the snails. As I am writing this, I should admit I have taken a liking for these creatures. But not enough that I want to home one myself or touch one. But I’ll definitely treat them with more respect. So the project worked on me, if not on my son. The thing is this: I never cared for snails. I am not the type to kill something deliberately. Even mosquitoes I tend to push them away – except when am in Chennai, you just have to electrocute them to stay alive there – and snails are something I’ve never noticed. My first rendezvous with snails was when I was a teen learning tennis at the local college tennis courts. When it rains, the courtside grass is lined up with grasshoppers and snails. These snails usually sneak into the courts and every other day, one of us would have stepped on one inadvertently. Oops. We don’t want to either, so when we spot one in the court, we’d usually put them on a projectile to the grass nearby using our rackets. Well, they survive the projectile, so don’t judge my past self.

So snails over the weekend it was. It was ok, except when we had to clean up their boxes. We were instructed to feed them a few pieces of fruits, carrots, leafy vegetables and wash the boxes once a day and rinse the snails themselves once a day. They loved the rain shower we gave them with a garden spray bottle. Cleaning the box was the toughest part. As for food, they loved the spinach and broccoli and lettuce. They didn’t touch the carrots and they did try the apple slices. So overall it was a nice experience for us. For my son, he didn’t care. He went on with his usual stuff and hung around when we cleaned the boxes instructing us to be careful. The fellow didn’t even try hand-feeding the snails – so much for selling us the idea 🙂

The highlight of the experience for us is like this. I remember when we brought home the snails, there were some generic leaves from all the plants around the school. And we fed them with lettuce and broccoli and baby spinach on all the days. And the snails seemed to like it a lot. So much that the youngest one would immediately gun to the fresh spinach as soon as we added them while the elders were still wondering if they should go. When my wife pointed this out to me, all I had to say in return was: “I am sure the elders are telling the kid, back when I was a kid, I had to crawl infinite distances to get such food and had to be happy with weeds and croutons on the road side. You kids have it all too easy these days!”.

My gramps said that to my dad. My dad says that to me. I catch myself thinking that for my son every now and then 🙂 I am sure animals experience the same condescension. It’s probably the moral fibre that connects humans to animals. Next week is the frog. Both I and my wife are somewhat scared of all things jumpy. I wonder how we are going to deal with the frog. I already have my meditation pack setup. I’ll probably need TM to get past the weekend. So wish me luck. I should’ve just brought him the fishbowl when he asked for it.