My family can’t have a pet for a few reasons: numero uno, the twins are at high risk for respiratory distress (and pet hair/dander allergies, in general). Numero dos, I am at high risk for spontaneously combusting if charged with the care of one more living thing. These people who sprang from my loins (or this c-section scar) get first priority. Me getting the mail takes second priority. Feeding and caring for extraneous non-humans is, sadly, out of my bandwidth. Please don’t hate me. I’m sure if I had to I could, but I don’t think I can and so I don’t. Pets are just not going to happen here.
Yet my oldest–an artistically talented and socially outgoing eight year-old–has been asking for a pet since she was three years old. Any pet at all. Any pet you can think of. She asks for a pet, all the time. I don’t feel bad telling her ‘no’ for the two reasons listed above, but also because I was fourteen years old before my parents agreed to let us have a cat. By the time we got that cat, good golly we were ready for her. Of course Mooch wanted nothing to do with us, but at least we were old enough to care for her properly. Also, we were old enough to save allowance money to pay off the gross little boys on our block to remove the lizard and bird carcasses from our doorstep because you know what? My dad was going to make us pick up her spoils and let me tell you one thing for sure: my sister and I were badasses, but we were NOT going to be picking up revolting, dismembered animal parts under. any. circumstances.
Where was I? Right. It’s 2012, not 1988. And I am talking about my kid, not me and my kid sister.
She’s finally figured out that a fish is the only pet which meets every single one of my stringent requirements. No poop to clean up. No vet bills. No hair. No fur. No breath (puppy or otherwise). No molting (please tell me I’m right to assume that fish don’t molt, because if so then oh my holy…)! I have urged her to settle for an herb garden, but basil does not purr or bark. Thank goodness, can you imagine?!
But fish die. I don’t want her BFF to die. Do you remember when Arnold found Abraham floating, ill-gilled in his (cheap, unoxygenated and frankly very septic-looking) fishbowl? That was heartbreaking to me as a kid. I sit here all scrunchy-eyed thinking of my kid experiencing such heartache. Yet she asks me again, “would you allow us to have a fish?” Me: “I guess. But just a cheap one, and nothing requiring expensive marbles or pirate ships at the bottom of the tank. And I don’t know if this is even relevant, but nothing requiring pH strips or any sort of water-testing supplies.” Who knows, maybe that kind of stuff exists. Does it? I don’t even know. I’m just looking for reasons to refuse an animal in my house, regardless of genus or species, vertebrate or invertebrate.
I tweeted about a recent conversation about her getting a fish for a pet, here and here. Next thing I know a kind soul gifts us gifted a tank and marbles and pirate ship. All I have to do is find five bucks to buy the fish and then harness my patience for the next eight exuberant months (weeks) until we completely adore (kill) this thing. Woo!
I guarantee you, my family will be the Lenny of all fish owning families. And if the wheelchairs don’t knock down this fish tank off it’s haunches, then I think you know what you owe me (I’ll let you off easy–just fish food). (eh, maybe an underground wine cellar.)