I celebrated the first day of dance for each of the girls – Julia, Lucy, and Phoebe – with photos of them jumping, twirling, and posing in their leotards before class. Jack’s first day of dance photo…well…
That’s it. (From almost three months ago.)
I didn’t take a picture at home in his dance clothes before class because there aren’t really special dance clothes for boys. I thought a photo at the studio would look a little less regular and more dance-y. But when we got there, getting a picture became less of a priority than making sure he was comfortable and having a great time. And he did have a great time, which is what’s most important. I just wish I had a better picture of it.
We bought and set up our fish tank nearly eight years ago. The beginning was rough. We went through a lot of fish during the first few weeks. Eventually, they started to thrive enough to build our confidence and we stuck with it, replacing any fish we occasionally lost. (That’s how we ended up with puffer fish and a short-lived second tank. Oh, thank goodness we held on to that second tank.)
Monster was our longest and most industrious resident. He’d lived in the tank around six years. And he was nearly 9 inches long at his death, thanks to all that algae eating he did. Maintaining the fish tank had always been a big job and after he died, it became really overwhelming, even with his tiny replacement, Monster, Jr. bottom-feeding his best. So, I decided to stop replacing the fish when they died with the plan that once the last one expired, the tank would go away. But our population held strong at four fish – two catfish, one pink tetra, and Monster, Jr. – for about two years.
One day over the summer, Jack saw me clean the fish tank. Maybe he’d never really noticed it before, but from that moment, it became his personal mission to explore it. He took every opportunity to get his hands in there. He’d yanked up the bubble stone and knocked over the decorative rock countless times trying to pet the fish. And every time I’d reset the tank and scrub him up, I’d reaffirm my position that once the last fish was gone, so was the tank! I WAS DONE.
As much as I wanted to be free of the fish tank, I never wished for any of the fish to die. But it happened soon enough. A catfish went first. By the time the kids were going back to school, Monster, Jr. had disappeared. We never even found his body. And at the end of September disaster struck.
Jack added to the tank some toys, snacks, my hairbrush, and we relocated the remaining fish to the our smaller, second tank. Julia and I tried to make the transition smooth, but fish don’t handle stress all that well and a short month later, the final two were gone.
I waited for the weekend to take down the tank. It was bittersweet as I removed the heater, the filter, and the bubble stone. Who knew having a fish tank would be such an adventure? I lifted the decorative rock and tilted it to let the water run out of it’s hollow insides. I gave it a little shake to get the last bit out and PLOP! Monster, Jr. fell into the water. ALIVE.
I screamed, of course, and everyone came running, but I had no words. I just stared, open-mouthed and pointing at the tank. That fish had been inside that rock FOR MORE THAN TWO MONTHS. He survived in there more than an hour OUT OF WATER when I was cleaning the old tank and setting up the new one. IT WAS A MIRACLE. And now, two weeks later, the tank is spotless, the fish is big and lively, and I realize we are never, ever going to get rid of that damn fish tank.