so here's a true fact: kids like animals. seriously, there is at least one animal that every child thinks is the coolest thing ever. and that is why kids like pets. and want pets. sometimes unreasonable pets.
this love affair with animals always starts out innocently enough. a fun little game to play with the very young is "what sound does a cow make?" and then the child says "moo" and everybody gets excited. and then you go through all the barnyard animals you can think of, because so many little ones have stuffed animals or pictures books with cows and pigs and chickens and horses. my kids always cracked up when they got to make turkey sounds. then you move on to not so common animal sounds, like rabbits and fish (seriously, my kids played this game on difficult). or, my favorite, the wild animals. because after monkeys and wolves, lions and tigers and bears all say roar. as do all dinosaurs, which is fish's current favorite.
anyway, after learning about all the different sounds animals make, then next step was to let them see all the animals in real life. which meant trips to zoos and aquariums. and of course, there was always the petting zoo area set up at community fun fairs. that was when things would go down hill, because after seeing and cuddling real live animals, then question became, can we get one?
and no, no you can not. because we are not farmers, i would have to endure the crushed look on my children's faces when i told them we were not going to raise goats or sheep or chickens. or even rabbits, the fluffiest traitors of all. conspiring with my kids to convince me to get them a pet, with big eyes and a fluffy butt.
not that i really have a problem with pets in general. just pets that we own. i am not really a pet person. i like cats very much, and have owned a number of them. but things always go wrong, and we have to get rid of them for one reason or another. i really am not big on dogs, but we've even owned a dog. things with her went very wrong, through no fault of our own, and she had to go too. taking care of pets is lots of work, and it always ends up on me, and lately, i'm just too busy to bother with it.
and so, this great desire of my children for a pet is met with the great compromise: a fish. because fish are easy, and most of all cheap. and though mammals were never able to last in our home, goldfish were another story.
until now, it seems.
we had gotten fish, and then they'd die, so we'd replace them, and the cycle would continue. my boys would name them and claim them as their own, but never get so attached that losing one was a traumatic experience. and then, four years ago, we got another tank worth of fish, and most didn't last. except for rocky. he lived with us for a long time, and even survived the move to my moms', where, instead of set up a tank inside, we dumped all the fish we had into her outside pond. and then it started getting colder, and we were worried that rocky wouldn't survive the winter, as he is a tank fish and not a pond fish. the rest we didn't care about, but rocky is huge with white and gold and black markings, so he was always easy to spot. so we took him, and a few friends, out of the pond and put him into a tank. and now that we are well established in our new home, we brought the tank, and rocky, with us.
unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be doing well. there was, at one time at my moms' house, seven fish in the tank. when we moved it over here, there were only three left. now, the two little pond fish are swimming around just fine, but poor rocky is bobbing around more than he is swimming. there are times that he swims, and i watched him eat, but i don't honestly think he's going to make it.
the saddest part, though, is that we brought the tank and the fish and set everything up while the kids are out of town, so they would be surprised when they got back. hopefully they'll be ok with the surprise of a tank of all new fish and no rocky. because i don't think i can afford to replace an eight inch multicolored fish and call him rocky II.