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So long, Cookie

December 30, 2010 4 comments
Waverly Cemetary, Sydney (#118)

Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr

The eulogy was short, just like Cookie’s time with us.

It went something like, “Those hours you spent in our house were among our brightest.  You lit up that tank like no other fish in the sea.  You fought valiantly with your one fin, and didn’t even complain.  You are an inspiration to all of us, and we will never forget you.  Go bravely into the sewage.”

Flush.  So long, Cookie.

My daughter had awoken to our worst fears: Cookie floating on the top of the tank.  The other two fish seemed nonplussed, and swam on their merry way in and out through the plants and rocks.  One down, two to go, I couldn’t help thinking.

Her tears were plentiful and anguished.  I felt horrible, but of course was thinking in my head, “See? this is why I didn’t want to go down this road.”  My instincts are always dead on, sorry for the pun.  Yet even the doubting Thomasina I was expected at least a week of uninterrupted bliss before something hit the fan.  Cookie was only with us thirty-six hours.

I am guilt ridden, both for poor Cookie’s plight and for my daughter’s tears.  Naturally, I blame my husband, who was in charge of the treacherous transfer (“Didn’t they tell you how to do it properly?”) It relieves the burden of responsibility somewhat from my shoulders; yet my daughter does not fall prey to these tricks we learn as we age; who is responsible for this tragedy is of no significance to her, she just dwells with its aftermath.  There is no bringing back Cookie.

But luckily, there are many more fish at the store, so they have traipsed back to where it all began, to find a replacement Cookie.  As well as a state of the art heater, just in case cool water temperature had anything to do with Cookie’s failings.  You see where we’re going with this.  Broke.

Categories: Parenting Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the family/RIP, Cookie

December 29, 2010 5 comments

My daughter was adamant: she wanted a new sibling for Christmas, and failing that, a dog.

I love my child dearly and would unthinkingly throw myself under a bus for her, but I have my limits.  We settled on a fish.

They say the key to effective parenting is consistency.  Fittingly, I have been carefully consistent in my message that I am finished with having babies – if I smell that coconut body butter that you slather on your extended belly to avoid stretch marks one more time I can’t be responsible for my actions.  As for the dog, I’m conveniently allergic to fur.  I am, of course, lying through my teeth about this allergy, but it is the simplest and most effective way of quelling their pleas that surface biweekly.  I sleep at night, despite this tiny white lie.

I have been resistant to bringing any pet into our home for obvious reasons, the inconclusive list including odors, noises, and upkeep.  But there is another major problem: they die.  As much as I want to avoid the trauma for my children, it is me who I am most worried about.

I have been there, and it’s not pretty.  The day we brought our family’s puppy home ranks among the most incredulous of my childhood.  We loved Buffy, despite the fact that she barked ferociously day or night if anyone stepped foot on our property.  She was a beautiful sandy colored cocker spaniel, with freckles on her nose and bottomless eyes with the eyelashes so long and seductive they needed to be trimmed regularly.  As much as she loved our large family, she passionately hated strangers or any other thing that moved, so walking her was an exercise in restraint, literally, and not for the faint of heart or weak in stature.

Buffy during Christmas 1981

Buffy lived a long life, but her death hit me hard.

In the same way I can’t watch Animal Planet lest an antelope become an afternoon snack for a Cheetah, I can’t stand the thought of any pet under our care meeting its maker, be it gerbil, cat, hedgehog, frog or fish.  Besides, I watched Finding Nemo; it is the ultimate nightmare for any fish to be resident in tank cared for by a nine year old girl. Yet I was feeling guilty for denying my child the pleasure of a pet, so I caved.  We got her a fish tank for Christmas, with the promise she could pick out her fish on Boxing Day.

She was over the moon excited.  She skipped into our house with her plastic bags containing her carefully chosen protege, three small fish that if cared for properly would double in size over the next year.  She had already named them: Elmo, Ernie and Cookie (as in Monster).  We were pet owners for all of five minutes when disaster struck: Cookie got caught in the fish net during the transfer into its new home.  Cookie appeared to be traumatized, if not physically marred by this procedure; we weren’t sure (he?she?) would last the night.

We waited on edge for Cookie to make a comeback.  “Cookie’s gone!” she shouted, which I immediately assumed meant he had been eaten by the other healthy fish in the tank, weakest link theory.  Half an hour later she reported a Cookie sighting – “I see him! He’s floating on top of the water!” – which caused my husband and I to exchange wary glances;  I knew this day would come, just not so quickly.  But Cookie was indeed swimming on top of the water, although slowly and like Nemo, missing a fin.

The news report in the morning: Cookie lives. We narrowly dodged that bullet, now it becomes a waiting game.  If I was a gambling girl, I would put my money on a funeral conducted toilet bowl-side before the New Year.  Meanwhile, I will try to remain detached from Cookie, and hope my child fares better with pet mortality than I historically have.

Categories: Parenting Tags: , , , ,