We’re on the verge of a big family change. It’s been in the making for years, but we like to take things slow and not just jump into adding another member to our family. My daughter says she’s been waiting for seven years and two weeks; however, it’s really been more like five years and two weeks, and three hours and fifty-one minutes, but who’s counting.
The excitement is palpable. I guess that’s what happens when you’re about to welcome new life into your home – fish life that is.
You didn’t think I was talking about a child, or worse, a four-legged critter. Did you?
Heavens no. I’ve already been putting the fish off for five to seven years, give or take a child’s imagination.
Back when my daughter was somewhere between four and five years old (FringeMan and I disagree on the age), FringeKid asked for a fish. She whined, begged, and pleaded, so I did what all good mothers do. I put her desire to the test. I told her if she kept her room clean for an entire summer, she could get a fish. In my heart, I knew I would never be cleaning fish poop out of a bunch of neon colored gravel. Never.
I think she was on to my wily parental ways, because every single day she’d clean up her room and then show me. I was a bit shocked, dumbfounded even. I tried this new technique on my son, even offering an entire aquarium, but no luck. Dirty underwear and toys multiplied under his bed quicker than a classroom full of fourth graders can do their two times tables.
My daughter has the angelic child part down to a science. She can turn on the sunshine and summon her inner clean kid when needed. Although she’s a bit of a brown-noser, a kiss-up even, she’s terribly sweet. She’s not only the teacher’s pet, but she also cleans the teacher’s fish tank. I was doomed from the start.
So I bought a Betta fish, because they live alone and I didn’t want to colonize the bowl, and my daughter lived happily ever after. Until it died. I’ll never forget the day. She sobbed, her little heart broken at the loss of her good friend. You don’t know love until you’ve had a pet fish blink its wobbly bug eyes at you from the other side of a rounded glass tank. She felt this loss to her core. I feared we’d never have a fish fry again.
FringeMan wanted to flush Necklace. Yes, she named her fish Necklace, but I never let her wear the fish around her neck. I swear on the dead Betta’s grave. FringeKid would have no part in flushing Necklace. A proper ceremony was the only way to send her off to the big stream in the sky. So, we did what all good parents do when their child is hurting. We held a service. FringeMan spoke some comforting words, we quoted a scripture, and then FringeMan flung Necklace into a bramble of berry bushes.
FringeBoy was certain the baby foxes got Necklace’s body, and he was sure to share this grave robbing theory with his sister. It was a long time of mourning. FringeKid drew a picture of the fish and hung it over her bed. Years later when we moved, I had to pack the picture and bring it to her new room. She still talks about that fish. I only hope she’ll find such kind words for me after I’m gone. I also hope FringeMan doesn’t fling me into the bushes, but it’s probably better than a ride down the toilet.
Now the long days of mourning are over and we’re ready to bring a new fish into the family. Honestly, I’m not ready at all, but my elderly neighbor asked me for help with a few things and I said “Of course.” Little did I know love thy neighbor would translate into four trips to the pet store. It was just my luck that this lovely neighbor had a fish tank in her basement and she offered it to me in front of my daughter. I’ve never seen such a happy child.
We’ve reminisced over Necklace. Six years later, her stories are mostly fish tales, but the love is the same. So it’s with good memories of fish that have gone on before, we welcome the new additions to our family. We pick them up on Saturday. I just hope we don’t need a car seat to bring them home.
Wish us luck, long life, and many future fish tales.