Our family is growing. It’s been just enough time since the last baby for me to think about taking care of something else.
And of course, it’s not my fish or the family fish, it will be my 8-year-old daughter’s fish. A big birthday present. But let’s be honest. I’ll end up taking care of it. I’ve dragged my feet on getting a family pet for precisely that point. I didn’t want to clean up any more poop than I already had to. But since the little one is pretty much potty trained, and the children are begging for a pet (or just something else to bug, because they’re bored with annoying each other), we’re going to give it a try.
It’s not that I didn’t have pets growing up. Our family had a cat that climbed the screen doors in the summer, and dropped dead birds on the step. We had dogs, one that walked the kitchen counters and ate entire loves of bread and one that curled up on laps and lived a long life. My sisters had rabbits that lived outside in a cage and liked to take walks on cat leashes. One sister had three mice. Not at the same time, mind you, because they kept escaping from their cage and got lost in the basement. (we did see one lurking about in its newly created life as a free mouse) I even had a parakeet. And when that one died, my parents let me get another one. That second bird, HATED me, would never let me hold it without pecking my hand to pieces.
In between all of those pets, we had fish. Fish we won at the fair, fish we bought on a whim from the pet section at Meijer. I look at my mother now and say “What were you thinking?” She sighs and says, “I don’t know. I was crazy.”
Oh I’m crazy. But not that crazy. Yet.
So fish, it is.
My husband and I took a trip to the local pet store to pick out everything that the fish will need. We thought it would be fun to let the birthday girl actually pick out the fish herself. Apparently, things have changed since the last time I got a fish. I’m thinking, bowl, food and we’re good to go. Oh no. The fish lady told us that goldfish need like a gallon of water for each inch of fish. So my little bowl could only fit one fish and not any more because goldfish grow like 3 feet. And I had to treat the water (aka buy more stuff) to make it safe. Oh, and make sure I cleaned out the gravel a lot because goldfish are the dirtiest fish. And I should probably get an aquarium.
Suckers that we are, we walked out of the pet store with a small aquarium, blue rocks, a fake plant, a tiny fish net and water treatment stuff. A far cry from the simple round bowl and tap water that I used when I was a kid. But, I guess we’re giving our new family member the best start we can.
Because really, my biggest fear? The fish is going to die. And I’m dreading the “your fish is dead” conversation. Yes, I know, glass half full. I’m already planning the funeral of a pet I haven’t even purchased yet (let’s all agree that the life of a goldfish is, well, short). Some friends recently told me they secretly replace dead fish so the kids don’t realize how quickly they “turn over”, so to speak. But these same friends have also had front yard fish memorial services to respectfully honor their finned friends who went to great aquarium in the sky.
I know I can’t shield the kids from everything (over protective mother alert). Perhaps I’m over thinking just a little bit.
One thing I do know. No one is getting a parakeet.