As you know, I implemented a no-pet clause many years ago. Save for the occasional imaginary pet, brothers who think they are a dog, or hapless captured frog (which was an outdoor pet until his untimely demise) the only living creature I’ve allowed to reside with us has been those of the fish variety.
We recently downsized our aquarium from 37 gallons to a lovely counter top 6-gallon Fluval aquarium. Which worked out fine, since we were down to only 4 hearty fish, and one very lively algae eater.
All the fish have adjusted fairly well, save for the algae eater. Who voices his displeasure by throwing the larger of the aquarium rocks against the side of the tank. Usually while I’m engrossed in a scary movie. And alone.
The other 4 fish I’ve had for a number of years. They are a pair of Serpae Tetras, and a pair of Black Skirted Tetras, which resemble the two angel fish that I grew up with, Angela and Timothy. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Angela ate Timothy right before my 8 year old eyes. A trauma I have yet to recover from.
To say that I’m unhealthily attached to my fish, is an understatement. Which is why I have discontinued naming them. It only adds to my neuroses.
To my horror, I noticed today that one of my beloved Black Skirted Tetras was looking rather sluggish. Periodically I would check on him/her/whatever and finally I noticed that the fish was stuck in an artificial plant, upside down, not moving.
That’s just never a good sign.
The children took note of my anguish as I retrieved the net to check for a pulse. Emme and Cailey understandably comforted me with kind words of reassurance. Jensen, on the other hand, began dancing around the room.
IS IT DEAD? IS IT DEAD? OH BOY, I GET TO SEE IT GETTING FLUSHED DOWN THE TOILET. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE IT GET FLUSHED DOWN THE TOILET! HURRY UP, MOM!
Through tears, I captured the unmoving fish in my net and withdrew the lifeless body from the tank. I noticed the other Black Skirted Tetra watching my every move. I’m pretty sure he/she/it was crying tiny fish tears.
Meanwhile, I heard a flush from the toilet in the bathroom as the lid was forced into the wide open position. Wherein Jensen offered loudly:
MOM, THE TOILET IS ALL READY! LET’S FLUSH IT DOWN! AND I’M GOING TO WATCH. OH BOY, I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE FISHY GO DOWN THE TOILET!
With a sigh, I moved slowly on one crutch, the other hand holding the net, toward the bathroom. The other two mourners followed behind me in procession, heads bowed. Jensen awaited us in the bathroom, eyes shining. I deposited the fish into the toilet bowl.
“Jensen, you may do the honors.” While jumping up and down, he flushed the toilet with gusto. After he was satisfied that it wasn’t going to come back up, he skipped away into the family room, stopping to eye the aquarium.
I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT FISH TO DIE!
I’m thinking I may need to work on the virtue of EMPATHY with one five year old boy. And in the meantime, I’ll be keeping the survivors of the aquarium under lock and key.