Monday, March 1, 2010

Well, it finally happened.

Last year, Livie was obsessed with getting a fish as a pet. I'm not sure where she got the idea, but every day for about a week, about a million times (or so it seemed), she'd ask us to get her a fish. Conversing with us about fish. Begging. Pleading. Sometimes having what seemed like a nuclear meltdown.

So one day last spring, Daddy, Livie and I went to the pet store and let her pick out a betta fish. We then picked out a bowl, a special sponge to clean the bowl every week, a fish net (to scoop out the fish so we could put it in a little cup of water while we cleaned its bowl), some aquarium "gravel" - the bright blue kind, and a fake plant for the fish to hide in, as well as betta-appropriate food. Oh, and the stuff we needed to treat tap water and turn it into a fish-friendly environment for our new pet.

And then we headed home, with Livie talking non-stop about what she'd name her fish. Nonni, Nala, Nonni, Nala, Nonni, and finally deciding on Nala (yes, she was also on a "The Lion King" kick).

She was so excited when we got home and got her fish bowl all set up with the bright blue gravel and the fake plant. Even MORE excited when we finally transferred "Nala" to her new home.

So we fully enjoyed having a "pet," though I had to remind Livie that we couldn't pet or play with the fish like we could with a dog like Caesar (her Abuelita's Pembroke Welsh Corgi). She thought it was a blast when it was time to feed "Nala," I would put the appropriate amount of food in her hand and then she'd lightly drop it in the bowl. Livie thought it was just too cool when "Nala" came up to eat.

Well, let me just clarify one thing. SHE fully enjoyed her "pet" . . . now, while I enjoyed having "Nala" in the house, and LOVED that Livie loved her "pet," I certainly wasn't a fan of cleaning its bowl every week and ensuring its water was treated with the betta water treatment stuff. I thought the weekly bowl-cleaning ritual was kinda gross and slimy.

Every weekend as I cleaned that bowl, I'd think about how much I missed having a mammal as a pet, whether it was a cat (I'm actually allergic to them, so I'll never again have a feline pet), a dog (the best kind of pet), or a horse of our own at a local stable. For some reason, it always seemed easier to care for and clean up after a mammal. Plus, it was much less gross. At least in MY opinion. But, alas, a mammalian pet will be for sometime in the future.

Anyway, not only did Livie love "Nala," her Abuelita did as well. She thought it was such a pretty little fish, and loved the color of the gravel and the way the green plant contrasted against the blue gravel. Abuelita made sure to "oooh" and "aaah" over the fish every time she came to visit!

So . . . you've probably noticed that I've been referring to "Nala" in the past tense. And there is a reason for that - the obvious reason.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed that our aqua-dwelling creature was not moving, kinda listing to one side underneath a leaf of that fake green plant. I made a mental note to check on the fish again in a few minutes, hoping it was just hiding out.

Well, about an hour later as I got Livie's bath ready, I saw that the fish was still in the same position. And I knew "Nala" was deceased. And now the time has come; I'm facing the need to tell Livie that our pet has died.

When I found a moment when Livie was distracted with her stuffed animals, I asked quietly asked Andrew to take the bowl down to the laundry room once Livie was asleep - I didn't want her seeing us taking the bowl away so I could deal with disposing of our deceased fish.

She didn't notice that the bowl was missing from her bathroom this morning as I was helping her wash up and get ready for pre-kindergarten. And I was momentarily relieved. I wanted a little time to figure out exactly how I'd tell her. Plus, since it's Monday morning and she's off to Pre-K, I wasn't really wanting to start her day off that way.

We also have Livie's 4-year-old well child checkup at the pediatrician's office this afternoon. I figured that since we weren't heading back to "school" today, and we'd be getting home early, I'll tell her then. That way, we'll be home and I'll have her favorite toys, books, and DVDs to assist me in comforting her.

So that's what finally happened.

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