Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Why the Betta Splendens Is Splendid

And there it is. Their first pet. A Siamese fighting fish. Which is more commonly known as the betta (Betta splendens).

Which is actually quite an invasive species and an aggressive one at that. Invasive and aggressive like our little Bryce, the tipping point in this first pet equation. For nearly the past year, both girls have been pitching for a real live pet, but Bryce has doubled-down on the request (with Beatrice backing her), and got the Mama to cave negotiate a pet start date when Bryce turned five later this year.

That's when the Mama started researching various low-maintenance pets (dogs and cats being years away), ones that could be kept in the house and that the girls maybe could help take care of. I say maybe because, at 4 and 6, it's not really an inherent priority to take care of another living thing behind day one so it stays alive. So the hamsters and guinea pigs sounded like a good idea until they didn't. (And daddy couldn't even get the Sea-Monkey experiment to last more than a day.)

But can they care for pretend things? Absolutely. The girls are really good at that. And we've got a billion stuffed animals, baby dolls, and little figurine collections that both girls have practiced on. But again, that's not really taking care of a live animal, only make-believe playing and sometimes pretending to care for and mend the owies and the boo-boos.

And then throwing them at each other or across the room. And then smothering them under blankets and pillows. And then dunking them in the water during bath time. And then...

For those of you who grew up on farms and dairies, and whose kids are now growing up on farms and dairies, I'm sure you and they learned early on how to take care of animals of all shapes, sizes and utilities.

But for the rest of us, it's a lot of work to care for pets -- in addition to the children. I'm sure that pets bring joy and obviously learning moments for the kids, but again, a lot of work for the adults in the room.

Bryce was relentless, so last year we got her one of those cheap robot dogs (the ones with the remote control cord attached) to play with, which she loved. And for Christmas last year we got her the annoying mechanical birdie that sings and records the girls' own voiceovers (the favorite extremes being either "I love you" or "you are poop and pee").

At some point between Christmas and now the pet start date got moved up with secret negotiations escalating without my knowledge (or the fact that I just blocked it out). Suddenly there was a small aquarium set up and a pretty fish swimming in it.

Betta splendens -- I kinda like that. And it's splendid that we don't have to pick poop up in the yard or from a cage for now.

And you can read to them. Who knew?

His name you ask? Well, it's Jumpy Tree Summer. Lovely, isn't it?

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