A circle of life thing

You know how sometimes you use gentle manipulation, like threatening to kill your kid’s fish, in order to get them to obey? Not serious manipulation just the little stuff like, “Well if you’re not willing to empty the trashes then I guess I’d better flush your fish down the toilet.” And because you are mostly good about follow-through (and because your kid is clinically anxious) it always works?

That’s all fine and good, but let me tell you it really stinks when you accidentally KILL THE FISH.

Poor Rex. He worked sooo hard for Dorothy and Sun Ray, and they were the cutest fish in the world. The day we got them he literally spent six hours “getting to know them,” sat by the tank and talked to them and watched them and thought about them and drew pictures for them, kept kicking his siblings out so he and his fish could have “a little privacy.” I love that kid.

And then his mother cleaned the fish tank.

The first time I cleaned it we had no problems; I apparently did it right. The second time I cleaned it I thought to myself, “Gee, I should take a little Dawn to those rocks and scrub them up good. So I did. I poured dish soap all over them and scrubbed off the algae until they were nice and clean, then I put them back in the tank and put the fresh water in. No problem.

Five minutes after I cleaned the tank I googled it and noticed that it did say to never, ever use soap and boil the rocks instead. But whatever, goldfish are hardy, right? And don’t they use Dawn on penguins?

“Mom!” Rex said a few days later, “Something is wrong with Sun Ray! He’s not feeling good, I can tell! He didn’t do his morning dance when we turned on the light!”

Like any good parent I promptly ignored it. Rex told me his fish were sick every single day for five days and I had no idea what to do.

The fish were dead within the week. They died a slow, miserable death and it was seriously depressing. It was like watching a cancer patient. Why didn’t I do something about it? Because I was in denial until the morning I found them floating in the tank.

We meant to have a funeral for the fish. My kids are good at dead animal funerals. I left the back door open last week and a bird flew into the room and promptly died on the carpet. Not sure what to say about that. Not sure why he picked that place. But he must have wanted a grand exit because the kids came home from school, carted him into the woods and had a funeral service for him.

“How’d it go?” I asked Harry when he came stomping inside.

“Not good!” He was huffing mad.

“Why not good? Did you have trouble digging the hole?”

“No! The little kids were so irreverent! I was trying to say a prayer and they kept running in circles and didn’t pay any attention! They were so inappropriate!”

Inappropriate is possibly my favorite parenting word and when I hear one of my children utter it a little spark jumps in my heart, like I’ve succeeded at something.

The goldfish have been sitting in a shoebox outside the house for a week and a half because I can’t bear to flush them and haven’t made the kids go bury them. I know, it’s so inappropriate.



  1. Hilarious…love it

  2. Poor little Rex!! But you are all kinds of awesome!

  3. Another reason we are such friends. I may have actually killed my own bird while in high school. Apparently flash photography can temporarily blind them, causing them to fall off their perch and break their neck.

  4. AAANOTHERRRR halarious story from Annie Valentine. Love you! LOve Rex! Can’t wait to see ya soon. I must share this one with my kids at breakfast.

  5. Sarah Knight says:

    A bird really flew in your door and died on your floor? That is some kind of crazy. Sorry about the fishys. I totally laughed out loud, and needed it. I was about ready to smother my children. Thanks for the diversion!

  6. Susan Spiers says:

    Oh my goodness but you totally made me giggle (quietly cause of course I’m the only one awake). If it makes you feel any better I killed my daughter’s second (& last) beta fish. I was cleaning the bowl too, only I was dumping out the water into the sink (I did have a lid slanted across the bowl) when the stupid fish jumped out & down the drain! Sadly, my dd is old enough to know that all drains do Not lead to the ocean (kinda hard in landlocked Arizona). Yes, I struggled to pick up said fish all the while listening to my dd screaming ” IT’S DYING A HORRIBLE DEATH!!!” Yes, over & over & over again. In desperation after listening to her screaming I finally turned on the water & the disposal. As soon as I was finished she stopped. I asked if she was ok & she said “yes”, she just didn’t want it to die “a horrible death”! I’m really not certain which way was easier, yours or mine 😉