Fish Killers

We had a lovely aquarium that my father gave to us when his trendy fish upgraded to a tank with more square footage and a larger backyard for their fry. Actually, I think he just switched to saltwater fish. Thank you, Dad. When it left our home, it set up residence with another family who have creative preschoolers. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa! After we had it all set up: pebbles, plants , pump, and PH balanced water, my DH took the girls shopping for freshwater fish to bring home. They picked out several, and we did what you’re supposed to do to acclimate them to our tank. We made a big deal every morning about feeding the fish. A pinch of flakes once a day, no more, no less. Our new pets looked happy. At least for a few days.

One of the repercussions of a traumatic brain injury is that when I stop moving, I fall asleep. Sound asleep. In the winter of 2003, four months after being released from the hospital, I was still plagued by that particular problem. Believe me, my girls KNOW IT! To this day, if they see me looking drowsy while watching a cartoon with them, the girls will do anything to make me comfortable enough to nod off:

Momma, you look cold. Could I bring you a blanket?

Lean forward so I can give you this pillow.

It’s okay if you rest your eyes, Momma. We’ll be fine.

Combine that side-effect with the lack of sleep that is inherent in being the parent of a tiny baby in addition to two preschoolers. I’m saying that I fell asleep in the middle of the day, and it happened more often than I care to admit. My daughters were fine, just as they had promised. I cannot say the same for my Pergo floors or the fish.

I often awoke and then counted the fish, then realized one (or more) had run away, leaving no note of explanation. I often found the fish in water, held captive inside small bathtub toys. So they had not run away, they’d been fish-napped! The last straw was the day that I found the fishes spread among Halie’s Barbie tea cups. In her bedroom closet. Halie explained that she had filled her cups with the water from the tank before she snatched the slimy fish right out of their home. Totally exasperated, I called DH and asked his opinion. We agreed on a drastic final consequence. Before Daddy came home from work, we had a Flushing Ceremony, and said goodbye to the fish.

Of course, we made the mistake of putting the tank in the living room in the first place, and within reach of the problem-solving preschoolers. It wasn’t actually in reach, but that obstacle was overcome by scaling the furniture to get at those little boogers! I’m not even going to discuss the amount of laundry I had that day, thanks to the towels involved in the fugitive water that escaped from the tank with the fish. Those fish didn’t cover their tracks too well. I’m pretty sure that they wanted to be found (read: rescued).

Catie, a short time after saying goodbye to her fish (she’s not the one who took them out of the tank), my father, the girls’ Papa, gave them Finding Nemo as a Christmas gift. We had a private screening in Papa’s DTS-wired living room that very afternoon. The character‘Darla’ was a little too close to home for my daughters. Catie sobbed afterward, saying, “We’re fish killers.”

So. We’ve all agreed: No more pets. Do kids count?

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