We've learned some hard life lessons at our house this week, at the expense of our first beloved pet, a fish named Zutsie.
Harrison got Zutsie for his 5th birthday. Yours truly did a decent job keeping Zutsie's bowl cleaned out (only about once every 2-3 weeks, but it seemed to be enough), and kept Zutsie alive for 9 months. I even rescued him from the disposal (thankfully it was off) a few months ago after he fell down there during one of his cleanings. This week when cleaning out the bowl as the main source of entertainment during playgroup (those 3 year old girls can't get enough of watching me clean out that fish bowl), I saw that we were out of the chemicals that make the water safe for fish. I had heard other people say that they didn't use chemicals and their fish were fine, so I decided to risk it.
Later that day, I noticed that Zutsie seemed like he was struggling. I fed him some food and hoped that work perk him up. That night, I found good old Zuts at the bottom of his bowl, belly up. I quickly decided against the thought of sparing the kids from the pain with a switcheroo, because they need to learn that death is part of life. I just didn't realize it would be as painful as it was.
Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of Zutsie alive. Here he is dead, with part of a ripped dollar. Harrison said he ripped the dollar and put it in there because he was mad at Zutsie for dying.
He was eager to flush Zutsie down the toilet, but then when it really came time to do it, he got pretty upset.
This broke my heart. I really had no idea he loved the fish that much. Although, I have always known that he is a very sentimental, sensitive boy, so I wasn't that surprised.
Nate and I both talked to him about death being a part of life. Everyone and everything has to die. And that we would be able to see Zutsie again when we die. I assured him that we would go to PetSmart the next day and get a new fish. He decided that we would name it Cookie Monster Masayuki (Uncle Jay Jay's middle name) Watabe.
On our way to PetSmart he said, "I'm going to pray that Zutsie has a good time while he's dead and that he'll be safe and sound while he's dead."
Despite my attempted persuasion, Harrison insisted on getting a white (and in my opinion, very ugly) beta this time. I told the sales girl what had happened and she said that she has betas and doesn't use chemicals and they are fine. She said ours was probably just used to the chemicals and so when we stopped he couldn't handle it. She said if we started off without the chemicals we'd be fine.
Thank goodness PetSmart has a 14 day money back garuantee on their fish, because that sales girl was wrong. Dead wrong.
This time I decided to let Harrison wait and figure it out himself. At one point he asked if Cookie Monster was sleeping. Then his uncle, who the poor fish was named after, and who has never had much tact, came in and said, "I think that fish is dead." After a moment of confusion and disappointment, Harrison said, "I'm not that sad because we only had Cookie Monster for like one day."
We took the body and receipt back (because that's what you have to do) and this time I convinced Harrison to get another blue one. This one blows Cookie Monster out of the water in the looks department. By the way, why the only fish we owned that wasn't blue got the name Cookie Monster is beyond me.
This one is named Daniel-San Masanatto Watabe. Allow me to explain. Harrison gets a bit obsessive with movies/shows. We've gone through a Cars phase, a Little Einsteins phase, a Toy Story Phase, a Spiderman phase, a Bakugan and Ben 10 phase, and most recently a Karate Kid phase. I need an entire post to adequately illustrate the love and admiration Harrison has for Daniel, Mister Miyagi, Karate, and all things Japanese. Hence the name Daniel-San (said with accent). Now about the Masanatto. I think I've mentioned the Masa tradition going on in Nate's family. Every boy gets Masa paired with something else as their middle name. Well Harrison's favorite Japanese food is Natto (fermented soy beans -- smells and looks as nasty as it sounds, so I have yet to try it), so he has lovingly paired this up with Masa to make the name Masanatto.
We also added a plant to the mix this time. I must say the whole things is looking better than ever.
Let's just hope we can keep this one alive. I'm getting tired of going to PetSmart and I really like him the best of all -- although Zutsie will always have a special place in my heart.
Tonight Elizabeth said, "Harrison, don't worry, you'll get to see Zutsie again in Heaven." Harrison said, "Elizabeth, fish's heaven is the toilet, the trashcan, or the pet store. They don't go to real heaven."
Wherever fish heaven is, I'm hoping Daniel-San won't have to go there for a long, long time.