Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Well, it finally happened. We lost our fish, 2 dollars. I actually kept him alive for 4 years. He was our second beta fish. The first died after a week and Max was young enough to where I could just flush him and pick up a new one. The first fish’s name was 1 dollar (his actual price plus change) so the name two dollars seemed to fit just right for our second fish.
I recently noticed how 2 dollars was slowly swimming around on the verge of floating. I was disheartened because he/she is usually a very hyperactive fish which was the reason I picked him/her out in the first place. I figured a fish with a lot of speed would last us a little longer and I was right.
I am smirking as I write this but I actually took pride in how well I took care of that stupid fish. I changed his tank when it started to look foggy. I fed him sparingly because I know they will die instantly if even slightly overfed (like I did to the last one) and I gave him a funny deep fish voice when he chit chatted with my son (almost everyday). Max would come home from nursery school and run right into the kitchen to tell two dollars about everything he learned and the friends he made. He would show his fish all of his projects, hold them up to the tank so 2 dollars could have a better view, and leave his art work beside the little plastic tank to keep two dollars company.
The conversations they had were pretty darn cute. 2 dollars would always ask Max a ton of questions with his famous quote, “blurb.” “blurp.” afterwards and Max absolutely adored the attention two dollars gave him. So when I witnessed two dollars sunken corpse at the bottom of the tank, I thought, “oh no…what do I say?”
This is a very ironic situation for me personally. When I watch shows on TV and a parent has to have one of “those” talks with their children; say it be: sex, death, divorce, etc. and they just can’t bring themselves to come out and say what it is they want to say, I always critically question,, “what’s the hold up? It’s a child….your child! Just come out with it and be non-chalant.” Well, I just got my first taste of a semi-awkward conversation with my son.
At first I was going to do the old bait and switch. Just flush the fish, go out and pick up a look alike and move on with life, right? (That’s was my husband’s advice) but then I thought, this may be a good opportunity to teach him about death. God forbid, if something ever happened to me or Jake, I would want my children to not have the added shock of hearing about death for the first time. I want him to understand where we go (to the wonderful, glorious absolutely astonishing heaven) how we go (in the ground, in a beautiful, comfortable box, called a casket) And then up to heaven where all their loved ones gather and watch over living souls on earth. (And of course, how we will all reunite in heaven one day when hopefully we are very, very old).
I broke the news on the car ride home from school. That way he couldn’t see my uneasy face. As I explained, I had a little lump in my throat. It was the strangest thing. I mean it should be the simplest thing to explain. He had some questions, like always and I could hear his little voice start to quiver. That made the lump in my throat get bigger and then I could hear my own voice start to quiver. We didn’t cry though. I could tell we both sucked it up together. We loved that stupid fish.
In that instant I understood what the writers for TV meant to express. You can’t understand how hard it is to communicate with your children. It’s almost like an out of body experience. You know what to say, you think you know how to say it, you could easily say it to anyone else in the world, but seeing your child cringe at your very words is so difficult. I still don’t fully understand the extent of this awkwardness because my boys are not teenagers yet and I know there are going to be a lot more of “those” conversations.
However, Max took the news like a champ. His spirits where uplifted when I told him we were going right to Petco to pick out another fish and we even had a little memorial service in the bathroom as we flushed 2 dollars and said our goodbyes. We expressed our love and told him we would see him again on the other side. It seemed like I made the right choice to be honest and tell Max what really happened, but now I’m a little nervous that our new fish, 3 dollars, will kick the bucket soon and how I will have to explain (all over again) that fish death is quite frequent. I don’t want him thinking or (god forbid) fearing about death too much.
I’m worrying too much! That’s a mother’s job, isn’t it?! We’ll take it day by day. Oh…the cheesiness when you become a mother. It’s great…Isn’t it! (Eye rolling)