For years Matthew has been asking for a pet. He wants a pet. He needs a pet. Why on earth can he not have a pet? Let's completely put aside the last four years of our life when we welcomed two new dogs to our family. Were those two furry, one still not 100% potty trained, animals not considered a pet?? Because I have a brand new floor and brand new couches that say differently.
He made it clear, for his TENTH birthday...a boy needs a pet. Sure, he didn't start small. He's bright, this boy. He knew opening with, "I want a guniea pig," would make our heads roll. Moving on. "Okay, how about a hamster?" We told him there will be no caged animals of any kind in this house. And then he made his move. It was like he was "settling" for a fish. He was doing us a favor by only asking for a measly little fish. Who could possibly say no to a fish??? Game. Set. Match. Matthew.
The night of his birthday, when he opened his aquarium from my mom, the kid was ecstatic. I don't know if he was more excited for his fish, or simply down playing his exuberant celebration of his personal victory. With us leaving for Disneyland the next morning, the tank and fish would have to wait. That didn't stop him from talking about it for days while we were gone. We went through names. We went through types of fish. Everything exhausted, it was time to finally get the fish.
Apparently there are these "new" rules about fish. Who knew this? When we were young, a ping pong ball landing in a clear cup at the Grape Festival guaranteed you a "pet" for the next four years. You couldn't kill a goldfish if you tried. How does something that floats in a dirty bowl have a life expectancy of YEARS???
When my mom and Matt came home from the store with his fish, there were rules. Like, more than one of them. There was this whole timetable of welcoming the fish into the aquarium and making sure the water was in the safe zone temperature wise and how much food was the right amount to give. Oh, yes..."Them", plural. Fydo and Jerry. To quote Matthew when we all said, "Fido? That's a dogs name." Without taking a breath, turned to us and said, "Did I judge you about what names you've picked?" On the tip of my tongue I wanted to reply, "No Richard, you didn't. Oh wait....YOUR NAME IS NOT RICHARD, IT'S MATTHEW!!!!"
Fydo there in the middle towards the bottom. It was impossible to get them both in a shot.
That night he fell asleep watching Fydo (yes, how he spelled it) and Jerry swim around the tank. He could not have been happier. Until...
The next day when we got home from school, Jerry was resting peacefully at the bottom of the tank. It was actually funny (not ha, ha, funny) because when we pulled into the garage that afternoon after school and he was bursting to get into the house to see them, the thought crossed my mind...What will I do if a fish is dead? He ran to his room and while I continued to unload our junk from the car and put things away. Finally, I made it back to his room to check on the fish and said, "Hey honey, how are Fydo and Jerry doing?" He looks up and very calmly says, "Jerry is dead." Okay, my heart broke for him a little bit. I said, "What?? Wait, are you sure?" He turned to me and said, "Well, I don't think he would be laying on his side at the bottom of the tank if he was still alive." Point taken.
And then it happened. The moment I had thought about and hoped would never come. The ceremonial burial at the toilet. All I could think of the days before the fish came was the Cosby Show when everyone got dressed up for Rudy's fish's funeral in the bathroom and how I was going to do everything in my power not to let that scene come to life in our house. We were already one day in and there went poor Jerry swimming out to sea.
I will admit it, he took it a little hard. But, good news, we still had Fydo. And Fydo was the bigger of the two, so we were confident that he was healthier and could handle the transition from the Walmart fish department to our cozy little home.
That night, Matthew slept at my moms because they were going to a fishing tournament the next morning. We were under strict instructions to feed Fydo in the morning and take good care of him. Things were going great, Fydo was happy and eating. Until...
The next morning Ryan comes running in to say, "Fydo is dead." I look at Rich and say, "No. No. You are joking. You have got to be %^&*ING kidding me? " Rich smiling, on the verge of laughing, "Uh, yeah."
You understand at this point I am at a loss. I managed to take care of two puppies, watching them for MONTHS, controlling where they went, what they ate, where they played to keep them safe from getting parvo and dying, and I can't keep two fish alive for a total of 36 hours? Mother. Of. The. Year.
Breaking that news to Matt was done over the phone. What? Don't judge. I can only take that look of being crushed so many times before it breaks me. He handled it well and we vowed to do a better job with our next fish and see what we did wrong to make it better.
Meet Pebbles and Bubbles.
Now, I will be completely honest. When Fydo and Jerry came home, I was a little disappointed that it looked like we had added two more males to our household. I said, "Really? Fydo and Jerry sound like boy names, don't you want any pets that are girls? I am outnumbered as it is." He didn't care, he was having no part of my pity party. However, things started to look up for me with the arrival of Bubbles and Pebbles. Even though he won't commit to them possibly being girls, I am confidently going to label them that. When he is older I will simply tell him that when he picks name that are often associated with strippers, he loses his say.
Fingers crossed. Bubbles and Pebbles like their home and so far things are going well. I was kind of feeling bad that every time he walked out of his room the first question that any of us asked him was, "Are the fish still alive?" This will go away, right? Because when he got up yesterday morning and came out of his room announcing they had made it throughout the night, his smile was priceless.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.