By Nicole Merritt of jthreeNMe
I killed my daughter’s fish. Ugh.
No, like really…a big “UGH”!!
Like my husband said to me, I’m surprised I didn’t kill it sooner.
I’ll be honest with you, keeping kids and dogs alive — I’ve got that down. I can do that sh*t with my eyes closed and hands tied behind my back (although I probably shouldn’t). But fish and plants, even when I try to tend to them properly…scratch that — I never actually follow guidelines for caring for them. AND THEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM.
So how did the fish die? In truth, it was probably a compilation of things including not cleaning the tank often enough and then when I did go to clean it, I believe the water was too cold for the poor little guy. Gosh, I’m a bad person! Why? Well, because I knew that the water was cold when I put him in it, but I had just done the same thing to his friend (yes, my son has a fish too), and his friend seemed to remain lively (enough at least) that I assumed I could get away with cold water a second time.
Cue the fish activists who are going to come out in droves to crucify me for not being more careful with life’s creatures. To those of you who want to rip me a new one right now, let me say that I understand where you are coming from and I in no way, shape, or form believe that little Mr. Fish’s life is less important than mine. I just made a careless mistake, which cost him his life, and for that I will honestly feel bad forever (okay, not forever, but for a while). Actually, I am close to being over it already.
Since I am an optimist and I like to find the positive or humor in every situation — even the tough ones — I am going to do that here as well.
So why is this even something worth writing about? I will tell you. Because I learned a few things about myself and both my son and my daughter from this unfortunate passing.
When the fish went belly-up, literally, I felt so uncomfortable looking in his direction. I had to walk away and I called my husband in to confirm that Mr. Blue Fish had passed away. My husband and my son then gave him a spontaneous funeral, sang to him, and flushed him. Don’t criticize the decision to flush him, ok? It wasn’t even me that made the decision.
The guilt over the actual death of the fish went away quickly (which I’m nervous to admit), but then I got a really anxious, butterfly-like feeling in the pit of my stomach. What was getting to me now? Well, the fact that my daughter was still at school during this happening and that I would have to break the news to her. I envisioned her crying, possibly yelling, but 100% absolutely being upset with me.
Thank goodness, my daughter ended up handling the news like a champ. It’s not that she lacks compassion or wasn’t upset at all. The fact is that we have raised her to know and understand that things (plants), animals (pets of all kinds) and yes, people, all die.
Ugh. Yes, I’m “ugh-ing” again. I HATE the word “die.” And, I also hate the word “hate,” so if I am using it here, you must get the point that I do not like to talk about death of any kind. Yet, I know that it is an unfortunate reality and because of this, I have educated my children to have a general age-appropriate understanding of it. Because of this, I do believe my daughter was better able to handle the spontaneous passing of her fish.
Here’s what I learned about my children and myself from this incident.
I suck at caring for fish. Seriously, why in the world I thought buying the kids fish was a good idea is beyond me. Why I for one millisecond thought I could handle caring for not just one more thing, but two, was a ridiculous assumption on my part.
Fish do not teach kids responsibility. Or maybe it is me that doesn’t teach responsibility, but I more than the children had to care for that darn fish and I was not lacking in the responsibility department, so the new additions were really not needed.
Everything dies. Such a sad, but true reality that both I and my kiddos need to come to terms with.
I need to slow down. Had I slowed my pace (like ever) I would have noticed sooner the need for a tank cleaning and I wouldn’t have rushed to put my daughter’s fish into too cold of water.
I need to have realistic expectations for things. For the amount of age-appropriate care my children would actually be able to provide for a pet, and for my time (or lack thereof), I have to properly nurture people/tasks/things in my life.
I need to stop putting undue stress on myself. While it is only natural to be nervous regarding your child’s response to an unforeseen situation, you, the adult, freaking out and practically making yourself sick with worry of their reaction does nothing to help them or yourself handle the situation any better.
My children understand life and loss better than I thought. Not only do they understand it, they are pretty strong and resilient in how they deal with it.
I’m sure you can guess the most important lesson that I learned —> No more fish in this house.
This post was originally published on jthreeNMe.
About the Author
Nicole Merritt is a mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole’s work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Everyday Family, Motherly & many others. You can follow Nicole at jthreeNMe and on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & Twitter!