Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fish death

The fish just keep dying.

Anna has an aquarium in her room that was a birthday present a few years back. It was born out of her desire for "something alive" in her room (never mind the fact that we have 5 cats.) I nixed all talk of rabbits and guinea pigs and chinchilas and what not. I was NOT interested in cleaning up after one of those - litter boxes are already bad enough. So we settled on fish. We had fish growing up and my mom has a tank now.

One of the things I remember my dad saying to us as kids regarding fish tanks was "don't get attached to fish." They are, after all, the lowest form of vertebrate life on the planet. The ones living in her aquarium have a brain the size of a hangnail. Still, when we first started with fish, we named them and everything. My dad would just shake his head and repeat his mantra "don't get attached to fish."

Those of you that know Anna know that she gets attached to everything. Her first two goldfish that she had were named Kiki and Fifi. With the clear memory of my father's mantra in my head, I reminded Anna that fish were fragile creatures and not to be disappointed if they died. To our utter amazement, they lived for nearly a year. But then the great fish die off began. Replacement fish lasted a month at best. We switched to tetras and glowfish and one by one, they croaked too. It wouldn't be so bad except Anna gives them all these cute little names. Strawberry and Silvermist and Popcorn and Chocolate Chip and Fred. That's right, Fred. Fred and Al were both algae eaters. Both gone to the great fish beyond.

I got an e-mail from Heidi on Saturday night when I was in Kansas City about the death of Popcorn. Popcorn was a guppy that was yellow with little black speckles. He had just been purchased the day before and could have been returned to Petsmart, but heartbroken Anna wanted to bury him. Both algae eaters bit the dust last night - a fact I discovered when I came up to find Anna despondent and crying in her bedroom. Tonight, another glowfish had died. He was up against the filter and I don't even know what his name was.

Anna keeps this list on the back of her door. I know that I am overly sentimental about my child, but it breaks my heart.

I think I could handle fish death if it weren't for the cute names and the ever lengthening list of casualties. But I know that's how she's dealing with it. She told me once that it's how she remembers them, which I suppose is fair. It's just another example of how, as a parent, you want to shield your child from all pain. It's not only impossible, it's fucking stupid. I always say that if I had just learned how to deal with some of the shit I am learning to deal with now at an earlier age, it would have been SO much easier.

But for now, I would like the fish to stop dying. Pretty please?

(image via)

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