I wondered what they were going to do with the fish at the end of the evening, but hoped I wouldn't be asked. But sure enough. At the end of the evening, I was surrounded by the pastor's daughter and my own two children with wide eyes and expectant smiles, hoping I would say "yes."
I thought about it quite seriously. I considered the feeding--"they come with food!" I considered the the clean up. I considered the fact that my son cried for a day after learning the rhino at the zoo had died. I considered the five gold fish I myself had purchased and killed in a month in my own youth. Then I thought about the important things this particular pet could teach my son about life span and life cycles. I thought about heaven and hell and if fish would be involved in either. And I thought about how much worse it could be.
So two fish came home with us. Benton and I discussed the life span of humans, dogs and houseflies on the way home. I told him that fish are fragile and you have to be very careful with them. We talked about how sometimes things die even if you do everything right. Benton named his fish, the one with the white, John. He tried to convince Nathaniel to name his, but Nathaniel was too sleepy to talk about it.
Then from the backseat, I heard Benton: "God? Why did you make it so that somethings die even if you do everything right? That makes me really sad." Then silence. I held my breath. "OK," I heard.
"What did God tell you?" I asked.
"Benton, that's the way I made it."
"How do you feel about that?"
"Do you think it's OK to be sad?"
"It is Ok to be sad, buddy. But you don't have to be sad as long as your fish is alive, right?"
The fish slept on their dresser last night.
In the middle of the night, my eldest wandered into our room. "My fish are dead!"
"You're dreaming. You can't even see them. Go back to bed." (I have little sympathy during daylight hours. Wake me up and you are out of luck).
He went back to bed.
In the morning, they were back to swimming. While my boys ate yogurt and bagels, the fish nibbled on fish food at the table with them.
As Nathaniel peered into the jar with is pacifier in his mouth, Benton asked him what his fishy's name was. It sounded a lot like "neeshy." So Neeshy is the orange one and she is a girl (according to Ben). And John is a boy--in case you were wondering.
Most recently, the fish watched a show with the boys.
When it was over, Benton says "Mom, will you please remove my fish? They are done watching TV and so am I." Next time, we get a pet that moves itself!