There are turtles in my bathtub. Also frogs, sharks, a variety of fish, some snakes, even a dolphin and a whale. An amazing assortment of creatures.
They are plastic, very colorful, and one of the best garage sale finds ever. When not in the bath hiding under bubbles for a grandchild to find they live in a clear plastic carry bag with red handles and a zipper, tucked inside a basket of bath toys. Emily dubbed them Sea Creatures, a name that has stuck.
Emily was the first to play with them. She was 4 years old and asked to have them in the bath with her. She dumped them into the water, watching them disappear under all the bubbles, then delighted in a game of search and find. She would move some bubbles aside with her hand hunting for specific creatures based on her own agenda (from the outset, an independent gal). When she found what she wanted she placed them on the side of the tub, trophies from the hunt.
When Molly came along she played her own game with the Sea Creatures. She preferred clear water, no bubbles to interfere with her visibility. After letting them swim a while she would line them up on the side of the tub, arranged by classification. Her active imagination had them interacting with each other, talking and moving freely as the thoughts popped into her head.
Liam also likes to search in clear water but he enjoys using a mask and snorkel so he can go under and get a good look. He prefers me to sit next to the tub, asking me to specify a type of creature then going under to find all of those. Once those are assembled neatly on the tub edge, he wants me to name another type to search for and under he goes again until all are out of the water, lining the entire edge of the tub.
Lily, Lola and Layla each prefer bubbles in the bath. Lots of bubbles, with the tub as full of water as it can hold without spilling over. They place the Sea Creatures under the water and search by feel, trying to identify each without looking. Selected creatures are lifted out of the water, bubbly and drippy, identity confirmed, then returned to the water. Because they are, after all, Sea Creatures.
Alex. Well, Alex is only 4 so he likes to simply dump the entire container of Sea Creatures into the water – bubbles or not – make a big splash, then survey his domain. Done.
One day there won’t be anyone left young enough who will want to play with the Sea Creatures. Already the older ones prefer taking a shower and often the little plastic bag with its red handles sits idle in the basket next to the tub. The Sea Creatures wait patiently, wondering when they will get to swim again. Like everything about my grandchildren growing up, it makes me happy-sad. Happy they are healthy and growing, sad they aren’t little anymore because I miss the things they used to do. Maybe I’ll give the Sea Creatures to a family with lots of little children. Or maybe I’ll move them into the shower and see what happens.