Luke asked for fish for Christmas. Like all requests from my children, my initial response was “NO!” But the more I thought about it, I decided that fish would be a reasonable gift because they wouldn’t end up like the typical junk-gifts that find their way to the floor in a broken mess (presumably) and they would teach him responsibility…which is what all parents contemplating the purchase of an animal tell themselves. Much like adults contemplating procreating tell themselves “my child will never throw a tantrum in the toy aisle at Target.” Or “my kids will eat healthy, organic fare and never be given gummy worms.” And then the next thing you know, your toddler is throwing a fit in the middle of Target and you are begging them to JUST SHUT UP AND I’LL GIVE YOU THE BLOODY GUMMY WORMS! Ahem….
Looking back, I’m not sure if Santa was in on this gift or not, but under the tree on Christmas morning was a 10 gallon tank and a plan to go to PetSmart to buy some fish! But first…research. Did you know that you can’t just fill a tank with tap water and throw in a fish? Nope. They will DIE. I remember this from when my gold fish, Corky, died in 2nd grade. After living in our home for approximately 5 hours. Sorry little dude.
So we did all the learning:
- Add water
- Add dechlorinator
- Rinse off decorations
- Add decorations
- Let sit for several days
And then….we went to PetSmart and bought the fish! Buy 3, get 1 FREE, dudes!
And…may they rest in peace. Luke Jr, Sushi and Glow-y all died within 24 hours. Skylar held on for a little longer, but ultimately succumbed to…something. It was a good experience for the kids to learn that death is a natural part of life. This is something that parents tell themselves when they find themselves in the midst of an epic parent-fail involving the untimely death of four Christmas gifts. So we did like you do with dead fish and put them in the freezer (where we keep the salmon…it made sense at the time) until we had a chance to take them back to PetSmart. You can totally get your money back if your fish die within two weeks of purchase. We had extensive conversations with the “fish guy” at PetSmart and learned that “In an ideal world, you would let your tank establish for six months.” Um…yeah. My kids can’t wait six seconds for a freaking cookie, I don’t think waiting six months for fish is a realistic expectation.
We did let the tank “establish” for a few weeks before adding more fish. And honestly, taking care of a tank with pretty decorations and no fish for a couple of weeks was unexpectedly fun and therapeutic. When there are no fish, they can’t die! So that’s nice. But eventually we put our hearts back on the line and bought more fish.
I’m happy to report that Leonardo is still alive and (apparently) well. The yellow fish died. This time we just threw it away. It was too humiliating to lead another funeral procession into PetSmart.
After keeping Leonardo alive for 4 weeks, we declared ourselves fish experts and decided it was time to find him a friend.
So…to recap, we currently have two living fish. And five deceased fish. The kids are now well versed in death and dying, and they are learning responsibility…and I am knocking on the wood coffee table in front of me.