Archive for February, 2007

The Undersea World of Mr. Doobins

Mr. Doobins’ latest interest is the undersea world. He likes to watch his videos and flip through his books on the subject time and again. He knows way more than I do about clown fish and ribbon eels and nurse sharks.

He also likes to explore the Internet looking for more acton shots starring his favorite creature of the day. More often than not, that’s some species of whale or shark or eel. But he does check in on milder creatures, such as starfish and jellyfish,too.

In the day-to-day of making it through the day, Mr. Doobins and I are often at odds with each other. Sometimes, it’s because he wants Garnet rather than me to help him do something – blow his nose, pour milk over his cereal, get strapped into his car seat. Other times, it’s because he flat out doesn’t want to do something.

Last night, he ran into his room and slammed the door when I told him that he was going to have to blow his nose before getting his drink. He stayed there a good while, too, lamenting the unfair nature of the world loudly enough for those of us in the living room to hear him quite clearly and pausing only to snuffle hard to keep all the runniness in there.

Finally, he blew his nose and got his drink.

Our time on the computer cruising the Internet for videos of the creature of the day is time free of such conflicts. He tells me what he wants to see and we’re off.

Much of what we see is new to me. I knew of great white sharks and tiger sharks but the first time he said that he wanted to see a whale shark I didn’t understand whether he wanted to see a whale or a shark. Sparkle Girl, who keeps abreast of such matters, had to straighten me out. A whale shark is a kind of shark – a gentle giant of a fish, as it turns out.

One of my favorite parts of the process is watching Mr. Doobins watch the screen. His concentration is complete.

Partly because hunting for undersea creatures is a good way for Mr. Doobins and me to spend time together and partly because she doesn’t enjoy the hunt as much as we do, Garnet tends to leave the online undersea quests to me.

The other day, when I checked in with her while I was at work, she told me that Mr. Doobins had already announced his creature of the day – the gulper eel. I had to ask her to spell it. Garnet said she had told him that, as soon as I came over, I would help him find some.

When I talked to her later in the day, she said that he was going around calling out, “Kim! Kim!”

When we did find a gulper eel that night, it was unlike anything else I had ever seen. Like some other creatures from the blackness at the depths of the ocean, it was put together without regard for curb appeal. It looks like they pulled the front half of the eel from the plus-size rack and the back from the petites.

The head is massive with a jaw that reminded me of Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel. The rest of the eel looks far too skinny for that head. And, at the tip of the tail, is a little light.

It begins to make a little more sense when you read about the gulper eel. He can’t see much of anything in the dark so he swims around with his steam-shovel mouth wide open in hopes of something edible swimming into it. (If you any questions, I will be happy to forward them to Mr. Doobins.)

Mostly, Sparkle Girl isn’t interested in seeing such things. But she is also one of those people who can’t stand not knowing what is going on. When, from the other room where she is playing with her Josefina doll or drawing, she hears us oohing and aahing, she may ask what we are seeing.

I have to answer to Garnet about what Mr. Doobins sees online so I don’t let him see anything too vivid. Still, we sometimes look at things that I know Sparkle Girl would be sorry to see. We may tell her that she doesn’t want to see it. Sometimes, she takes our word for it. Other times, her desire to know what is going on overrides her squeamishiness and she comes in for a quick look.

When we came upon a video in which a great white shark shoots up out of the water from below and swallows a seal whole, Mr. Doobins wanted to watch it again right away. When Sparkle Girl came in to see what the hubbub was about, she was both appalled and fascinated.

For just such instances, Mr. Doobins and I have videos of beautiful underwater scenes – jellyfish swimming, beluga whales dancing – that we keep a click or two away. We let her see just enough to satisfy her curiosity and then switch to one of those.

We all enjoy the fluid beauty for a minute or two. Sparkle Girl returns to her world, and Mr. Doobins and I off again in search of adventure.