And so it was that our successfully manipulated impressionable young minds were in pet ownership bliss. They sat around waiting for the moment the crickets would chirp. The crickets sat around too - waiting for nothing, generally quite clueless. It took all of 10 seconds and then one chirped! The kids were overjoyed. My son ran over to his room for his first greeting chirp. And what do you know, his crickets chirped too!
Crickets chirp about 62 times a minute at around 13°C and tend to be nocturnal. The higher the temperature, the higher the rate of chirping. In protest to the changing of the seasons, our home is set at a constant 25° around the year. Usually male crickets chirp, but females pipe in too - completely unnecessarily. So they chirped, and they chirped, all round the clock. Shrill, high pitched and constant - especially at night.
My daughter was completely immersed into her dear pets, maternal instincts in overdrive and all. This little cricket mother monitored their mating appetite closely, noting with some distress that the female didn't particularly fancy the male - that at least explained what all the chirping was about! She also insisted their chirps changed when she was near, or when their moods changed. The crickets would be impressed to know they have moods. So the whole educational side of the pet project was in full throttle and our nights and sleep on the whole were in total decline.
While our little girl dreamed of having hundreds of baby crickets through nights of incessant chirping, we lay awake in the darkness, staring at the ceiling, quite blinded now by my husband's dazzling brilliance! She couldn't sleep without the chirping and we couldn't sleep with it. But we were the adults and so we got our way. The crickets were rapidly downgraded from pets to pests, from the children's room to a small bathroom on the lower floor, far from everyone's conscience. It might take her some time and therapy to overcome the trauma of this separation. Such is life.
Both terrarium's adorned the window sill. Many layers of shuttable doors lay in between to seal out the noise. There they stayed and chirped, sullen with the defensive sullenness of the defenceless. We counted down from their life span of a 100 days for nature to take it's course - preferably sooner than later. Only a matter of time till we reclaim our bathroom, bedrooms, sleep and lives from this menace! Any case the kids presented on behalf of the crickets was struck down. A form of open fascism was adopted to sit out the shorter part of 100 days. It couldn't be much longer till the dreadfully sad demise of the 4 dear crickets came to pass.
We miscalculated nature. Sometime around day 20, little specks of black stirred in the terrariums. Like the sand on the floor had come to life. Each box had about a 100 little cricket babies. The creatures in captivity strike back by multiplying, literally, a 100 fold!!! The children were ecstatic, my daughter was in tears of joy over her cricket babies. And we had over 200 crickets to boast of!
Outside, winter is fast approaching, the temperatures are falling rapidly. Releasing the crickets will mean their certain end. It will be another 6 months till it warms up enough for them to survive outdoors. What do you think - will we call upon that last shred of decency, take responsibility and turn this lesson around for the kids, even if it meant perpetuating our cricket menace? Or take the quick and easy way out?
Let them live? Or let them go?