September 18, 2011

Give and Take

Today, we gave something back to nature. It was Mia's idea actually. We made a nest to give to the birds.

Mia found the sticks and the feathers, and we wove it together. Then we placed it up high in a little oak tree we planted ourselves a few years ago. I feel like a circle has come around, in a poetic kind of way, because you see, we took something away.

Last week, we had three goldfish. Today, we have none. It's a sad, sad thing to know that a goldfish in the wild can live to be up to 50 years old, and in captivity, on average, about a year. But in our house, they last a week.

Mia really wanted a fish for her birthday, really really. So I researched, got online and found out the basics about goldfish-keeping. I read that goldfish need to be in groups, so I insisted we get two. Mia named them Lella and Nella. Both were good-sized, healthy-looking ladies, and we brought them home full of confidence they would be with us for a long, long time. We bought the food and the little blue rocks and the special drops to make the water fish-friendly and a plant and everything.

The next day, Nella went belly-up. The next DAY. So I stuck her in a baggie and marched right back to the pet store with Mia (who handled the whole thing extremely well, I might add). We promptly picked out a new one, which Mia named 'Nella II'. We came home and held a small burial service for 'Nella', who was a good fish.

The day after that, the other original fish, 'Lella', died. Then she came back to life, then died again... it was all pretty awful. At one point, I was sure she was gone, so I fished her out and Mia wanted to hold her, and to her horror and mine, she started to flop around, so we thought it was still alive, but when I threw her back in the water, she went belly-up again, for like the twentieth time. We kind of avoided the room for a couple hours till I was sure there was no more movement... But I mean, talk about horrible. 'Nella II' was there, witnessing this whole macabre scene. What do you think she was thinking?! What kind of horrific, death-filled home had she landed in? Then we exhumed 'Nella' and added 'Lella' so they could rest in eternal peace sid by side in our garden. Mia laid down some flowers for 'Nella' and 'Lella', who were both good fish.

Now 'Nella II' was a lively, but definitely skittish little fish. Any time someone moved or said anything, she'd dart away behind the plant and 'hide'. We were on eggshells around her, tip-toeing around the room and using our 'pinky voices', which isn't easy to do when you're 3 1/2 and 5 years old. It was turning into a pretty stressful situation, this goldfish thing.

Then, she died. I think my turning on the light might have scared her to death. 'Nella', 'Lella' and 'Nella II'. All good fish. All gone within a week.

There will be NO more replacement fish. I'm done. Three fish funerals in a week is just too much for me to bear. We've got a pot full of fish food (all three fish ate about .00000000002 grams of the stuff) that''s good until 2014. 2014?! What kind of goldfish lasts that long?! The kind that don't live in our house, obviously. Head my warning: all fish, hamsters and guinea pigs: beware! Don't live at our house, no matter how cozy it looks and no matter how well Mia and I promise to look after you! It will be your doom.

I return to Mia's unselfish act, her gift to nature, that nest. It humbles me and makes me feel slightly less awful about destroying the lives of three goldfish. (Not to mention countless caterpillars, butterflies and ladybugs that have come and gone over the years.) Life and death are the same thing, and seeing as our kids spend a lot of time outside and see a lot of life, and death, I see they respect both enormously.