My four year old son was a tough guy to potty train. He showed interest early on and the second something finally came out of his little body, he thought "ok, I did it....now give me back my diaper and leave me alone already!". I worked at it continuously and made a lot of progress. Just when he was ready to leave his diaper years behind him, my husband would have to travel for his job and my son would take 18 steps backwards. At least that's not frustrating or anything. So of course, just this past summer, the Hubbs left for 3 weeks, came home for 4, then left for another 3 1/2. Within this time period, the boy had more accidents than I'd care to remember. Including one time I specifically remember his actually crapping on my hallway floor directly outside of my bathroom. Awesome! There's only so much patience inside of any one human being. I can't even lie and say that I held it together all the time. It's no small feat being the sole person to wake, be with all day, and go to sleep with 3 kids under the age of 4. I totally deserved a medal or even dinner out somewhere after all that. I'm keeping a mental note and may choose to take all the payments for all the times like this summer all at once! HA! I'll show him. Anyway, I digress. Finally, I decided that a small reward should be offered for any continued success. I gave my son a chart with boxes for the days on it and after 5 consecutive days with NO accidents, he could get a pet. Now, this pet was to be his very own. And I'm not naive....we have two 100 pound mutts in this house. I told him he could pick out his very own betta fish at the pet shop. No filter necessary. You feed them when you remember. Very little start up cost and maintenance. PERFECT! And on top of that, my husband and I really wanted to teach the kids about death in a subtle way before they lose their lifelong pups. In our minds, this fish would teach that lesson, probably even sooner then we'd hoped. A win win.
So sure enough, after 5 days were marked on the chart, we all headed to the pet store. My boy picked out his favorite color(blue) fish and his Dad and I picked up the rest of the necessities....bowl, food, little plastic plant. Check out.
The fish is named Sammy by it's proud new owner and lives a very content life in our kitchen. It was summertime and I suppose, optimal temperature for Sammy in our kitchen. He was in clear view of everyone at the table while eating so the kids could enjoy watching him swim around his little bowl, and the adults could remember that it needed to be fed. This extra pet is really paying off. A constant reminder to my son that he needs to use the potty and a reminder to us that our little boy was growing up. Harmony right?
The boy's 4th birthday comes around and a very good friend of ours buys a brand new fish tank for Sammy complete with awesome army tank and an army guy too! It's mid-late October and getting pretty chilly on the east coast. After the party, I put off as long as I possibly could switching this fish's humble abode. My son couldn't wait a second longer to watch him swim around the tank....and the tank in the tank! So I'd set out some water a couple of days prior to let the chlorine evaporate(I SWEAR I read this somewhere). It's now the night before the boy's actual Birthday. I can't say no, and I set up the tank, pour in the water, and drop in the fish. All looks good. Until the next morning that is. At breakfast his Dad loudly points out that Sammy is looking a little "sluggish". Of course my 4 year old Birthday Boy and his little sister are wanting to see Sammy in all his glory swimming around. Thankful for all my distractional tactics sitting around ....I find a way to point them out of the kitchen and assess the situation. I have afterall, once worked in a veterinarian's office. So I would be the better qualified adult in the house to tell what's really going on with Sammy. ;) He was sluggish indeed. Gills still moving, he was kind of sort of on his side a little. Let me sidebar by saying, my kitchen is freaking cold in the fall and winter. Like REALLY cold. If you go in there without slippers, you may lose a toe to frostbite! And here is where this poor fish is all day and all frigid night. So I thought if I moved him into the sun, he might warm up a bit and get the chill out. It was either that, or my way which is to down a hot cup of black coffee. Sun? Coffee? Sun. Definitely. Well, we go do our traditional birthday stuff....pick pumpkins, eat lunch, come home and pretty much do whatever the birthday boy wants and finally naps before dinnertime. I'm getting ready to bake cupcakes for his preschool party the following day and go to check in on the patient. Only to find him sunken next to the army guy. Oops.
Now, I know we wanted to teach the little one a life lesson about death and all.............but it was his birthday for God's sake! And anyone who's been around a 4 year old knows that they don't forget a damned thing. So I certainly couldn't have this poor little boy going to school the next day and when asked "how was your birthday?" his response being that his dear fish Sammy died. So, in lieu of baking, I drove to the pet store and bought the replacement. I can't believe I'm one of "those" parents now. Ugh. And truth be told, it's not even a close match. Yes, it's blue.....I got that far at least. But it has red tips on it's fins and....here's the kicker......apparently it's a girl! Because there's a nice layer of "bubbles" or roe on top of the water now. The Hubbs and I call her "The Deuce" and luckily the kids haven't picked up on that. Yet. I'm sure it's only a matter of time. As fortune would have it, my son is about as observant as I am. While he did notice the bubbles, he has yet to see any difference in the colors or(did I forget to mention this) the fact that "Sammy 2" is almost 1/2 the size of the original. Don't judge. I sleep like 10 hours a week. And will have you know that I was up past midnight finishing Spiderman cupcakes.
To add insult to injury though, my son's new pet now resides in our bedroom. Along with the 200 pounds of smelly dog. Just in case the below freezing temperatures had anything to do with Sammy 1's demise, my room is on the second floor and much warmer. And now smells like dog fart and stagnant water. Very romantic! In that setting maybe we'll muster up the lust to go for a fourth child. We'll get them all ringtailed lemurs, which of course would live in our bedroom too and start a colony in our little NJ town. It'll be freaking GREAT!
Chillin with Sammy 1 the day we brought him home from the pet store. RIP Sammy.