I look around my house and I know our household has truly arrived at the status of “family” because we are proliferating in more creatures (human and otherwise) than ever before. Of the things that need to be fed (besides us) we currently have two cats, a venus flytrap, vague plans for a dog (on which we feed our fantasies), some goldfish, and a water snail. The snail is a big hit. And I know this is only the beginning. We also have a newly emptied small tank that I’m sure will house a lizard, turtle, or frog at some point in the future. Or perhaps some more flesh eating plants. (Those are cool!)
I base this animal-overrun definition of “household with kids” on my own upbringing. My parents were both into nature and especially my mom was pretty laid back about anything “scientific” going on in the house. Plus, we had a decent-sized home and a yard that backed up against fruit orchards and beyond that, hills. This led to a lot of pets and nature experiments over the years. (I mean, besides the chickens and the rabbits. I take no responsibility for the hippie tendencies that occurred during my youth.) For example, one time I trucked down the hill from the pond with a plastic bag full of tadpoles. And my mom let us keep them! In the bathtub. Because witnessing first hand the miraculous change from tadpole to frog trumps clean kids anyday! Woo!
(Lesson learned from frog experiment: If you don’t know what to feed tadpoles, eventually they’ll start eating each other. I think we made it to two frogs.)
Anyway, I always kind of planned to be fairly open to nature
and animal visits like my mom. Not that
Keen’s family aren’t animal lovers as well, because they are. They just go in a different direction. A large portion of Keen’s family is made up
of small Italian women, who all own a variety of small dogs - mainly, poodles
and Chihuahuas, with maybe a Llapso Apso thrown in somewhere – and they smoke,
and carry these dogs around, and wear double knits (both the women and the dogs),
and the dogs all have names like Butch, and Bubbas, and Chi-Chi. It’s all very canine Goodfellows. (There was even a Pesci-esque poodle/coyote
incident in Yosemite
Not that I’m letting anything live in the bathtub either. That’s what tanks are for.
(Oh! Lesson learned from snail experiment (this is where I put two garden snails in a shoebox with dirt because I wanted to “observe” (make pets out of) them): If you don’t know what to feed snails, they’ll eventually try to eat each other. Nature is cruel, man!)
(Don’t worry, I let the snails go.)
ANYWAY! The goldfish have
been a new addition to our family. It
started with one, won by my son (under the sun, what fun!) at the county fair. Ah, suburban stereotypes. Chance was ecstatic because he luuurrves fish. And I thought, well, we might as well get a
tank (because the ones they give you at the fair are a joke) and a companion
for the fish. So I bought a small tank. Then on a separate trip I bought another
goldfish. (A “rescue” fish, by the way.
There’s a pet store near us that just does rescue animals and this goldfish was
“rescued” from a pond. That just cracks me up.) Turns out, this second fish was way too big for the tank we had.
OK, a couple weeks later I buy a second, standard-sized tank. (Yeah, I made the fish wait in cramped quarters. Sue me.) I also bought two more “fancy” goldfish and a snail, and a bunch of live plants… because if you’re gonna have a regular tank you might as well make it look nice! This weekend I transferred everything to the new tank. It went swimmingly (especially since I never follow that “wait 24 hours for filter to adjust water” crap). All the plants, and little fishes, and snail, were doing fine. Except for one.
The one fish that drifted near the top of the tank for a long time, taking big gulps of air (water?). The one that started swimming around tilted. The one that seemed to stop eating.
The one I found belly up two days after I bought it. Damnit!
Do you know I struggled with whether to tell the kid? My first instinct (because if anything, and despite the Bigfoot episode, my first reaction is always truthful and I really should break out of that at some point because being too honest can, on occasion, be just as much trouble as telling big whooping lies) was to tell him and talk about it and let him do a burial. Then I thought about the possible tears, and the promises to pick out another fish, and the whole conversation… and I said, what am I crazy? I do NOT need to have the death conversation with my three-year-old! (I kind of figure that if I’m open to pets I’m gonna have this conversation plenty in the future.)
I imagine I will tell him at some point… when he notices. Which I imagine will go something like this:
Chance: “Mom? Where’s da white fish? The white fish, Mom! Where’s white fish?”
Me: “Oh honey, well, that fish got really sick, so I sent it to the doctor’s where they could take care of it.”
Chance: “The doctor’s? When coming back?”
Me: “No, it’s not coming back, kiddo. It’s too sick. But they’ll take good care of it!”
Chance: “Where, Mom? Where it at?”
Me: “St. Porcelain’s Hospital, honey. St. Porcelain’s of the Immaculate Fishes. But don’t worry, it’s a step up from St. Shoebox the Divine.”
(Oh look I’m breaking out of that honesty thing already.)
- the weirdgirl