A couple of weeks ago, Middle Boy's beloved fish, Rainbow, went to the big fishbowl in the sky. Rainbow was a betta and Middle Boy's first personal pet. Mary, our dog, doesn't really count because Mary and Middle Boy never hit it off, especially after the two unfortunate pooping incidents of 2003. One on his bed, and one almost on his lap. It was as if the dog and the boy knew immediately that they didn't like one another seven years ago.
Middle Boy [now 10] has always loved animals, so one year, his deductive reasoning skills led him to the conclusion that because Mary was an animal, and because he loved all living creatures, he must love Mary. He's a logical child so the sound arguments left him no other choice. I'm certain he continues to rely on this rationale every time Mary glares at him or chews holes in the carpet under his bed.
Rainbow's passing was heavy in our home. The sadness he experienced surprised Middle Boy, which subsequently surprised and moved me. He came down the stairs nervously saying, Rainbow's dead. He was fine this morning. Together we confirmed that, in fact, it was curtains for Rainbow. Middle Boy wanted to execute the flushing ceremony himself, even after the color drained from his face when he thought he saw blood in Rainbow's habitat. [There was no blood.]
It was a long, sad afternoon. I cleaned the fish tank. I also removed some fishsticks from the freezer, per Middle Boy's request. "Too painful," he said. [He's since managed to choke down salmon and shrimp, so I think he's recovered from the "seafood-is-Rainbow" PTSD.]
Middle Boy found comfort in processing his thoughts aloud. I don't think I fed him too much. He didn't act sick. I've had him for almost two years. That's old for a betta. I think he died of old age. Probably in his sleep. That's gotta be it.
I finally asked, "Would you like a new fish? Would that make you feel better?"
He tried not to jump on the offer, but I could tell it was exactly what he wanted. "I think so," he said. "Not to replace Rainbow, of course. Just to help me with my grief."
We went to the store to purchase a fish. Middle Boy wanted to make sure the new fish didn't resemble Rainbow. Again he reminded me, Rainbow could never be replaced.
The new fish is bright red and perky. He flutters and swims when he hears voices. Middle Boy noticed that Tamale [the fish's name] does not like to be observed eating and we've been instructed to leave the room when the fish is fed. He needs PRIVACY, Mom.
Middle Boy gave me permission to share this tender fish story. In an effort to balance his soft side, he also gave me permission to share a drawing he created a few days ago. It's Slash from Guns N' Roses, one of Middle Boy's idols.
Middle Boy -- a fish loving, electric guitar playing, softhearted, appreciative of the edgy and cool set, ten year-old. I hope he never changes.