Our First Pet

Some of you will be wounded. Some won't understand. Some will understand perfectly. I am not an animal person. I have made a solemn vow to be the "bad guy" in our house when it came down to telling the boys, "no pets!" It sounds cruel, and perhaps it is, but since I am the one that would end up caring for the thing, I feel I am within my rights. Dogs bark, breathe and drool. Cats shed and bring mice as gifts. Fish poop and then swim in it. Birds are just creepy. The side effects of human offspring are bad enough. Let's not add anything else! Which brings us to last night. Our church did it's annual fund raising dinner (so maybe someday we can have a building of our own. Sigh). It was a Chinese theme this year, and the decorations were fantastic. Right down to the centerpieces--a vase with rocks in the bottom, Japanese maple branches sticking out the top and gold fish swimming around inside.
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?"
"Still sad."
"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!

(Just kidding!)


Kari said...

you know that gold fish poop more than other fish, right???

there is a great article in family fun this month about "sharing" pets with other families. A great idea, since after a few weeks the "newness" wears out, pass 'em around and share the joy! then when they come back to you again, they are exciting again!

Aly sun said...

Good idea, Kari. Except don't share them with me. (this is a great idea for a friend to have that lives hours and hours away!).

This is a great lesson for Benton to learn. I love that Ben already realized that God is in control.

Andee said...

Exciting for whom?!

Grandma Sherri said...

Maybe you should be glad the fish can't move themselves, think of all the places you could find them, and the alternative of the boys moving them is also scary, there were terrible tears over the dropped water globe and it didn't even have fish. Just " no more snow".

Sara said...

Sharing pets - what a fabulous idea!

So, Andrea and Alysun, the whole "I hate pets" thing obviously runs in the family, eh? Did your parents do this to you when you were young? =)

Sara (Alysun's cousin-in-law)

Andee said...

We get it from my dad. Mom has plans to replace him immitiately upon his death with a Golden Retriever. For this reason alone, I think my father will live forever :)

Cathy said...

Ahhh, kids and gold fish. I didn't want them either, but, like most families with kids, ended up with 'em anyway. I love the conversation with God in the car. And thanks, Andee, for filling us in on your mom and dad. (Has she a name for this future Golden Retriever!) :)