Sunday, March 30, 2014

I've been Deceived (and There's a Dead Fish in My Purse)

Yesterday started off as a great family day. We had the last swim lesson, and we had promised the kids way back on the first day of class that they would earn an ice cream treat at the completion of the five-week session. So, we went to Dairy Queen and had Blizzards -- for lunch! (We had never had ice cream as a meal before, but it made me feel like a pretty cool mom.) Then, on the way out of the mall, we were passing through the sporting goods store and Logan wanted to ride the escalator. So we did. Up and then down. Just because. I went home on cloud nine, absolutely convinced that we were the most awesome parents in the world.

It turns out that this may not be all that accurate.

Let me back track a bit and mention that on Friday, Mia's first fish, Bluey, had gone to the big fish bowl in the sky. (If you're keeping track, this meant we only had him for four days.) Of course, she was very upset, and I was frustrated. I thought we had done everything correctly. We had set up the tank last Sunday according to the directions given by the kid at the pet store and then had gone back the next day to get the fish. He was happy for about a day and then he started to look bad, and then he looked worse, and then by Friday morning, he was barely hanging in there. I prepared her for the worst and dropped her at school, returning later to find that Bluey was dead.

I called the pet store, trying to figure out what the problem might be so that we could fix it before plunking another betta into the tank. The guy on the phone said bring in a water sample to have the pH level tested. So, I did that Friday night and he said the pH level was actually good, but there was another issue: the nitrite level was way too high and he said nothing could have survived in that water. (Correct me if I'm wrong here, but wouldn't this have been good information to give someone before her kid spent her own money to buy a fish?!) Then he told me to take out about 1/3 of the water in the tank (our well water) and replace it with spring water. (Again, shouldn't they have told us this in the first place?!)

I told Mia I would get it sorted out, and we went back on Saturday afternoon. (Remember, this after the swim lesson, ice cream lunch, and escalator ride that had me feeling like Super Mom so I was feeling cautiously optimistic.) Fortunately, I was also thinking ahead a bit and I took both the dead fish (with receipt, for exchange) and another sample of water, just to be safe. Turned out that the water was still problematic, so it was good that I thought to have them test it again. (The only downside was that I then had a dead fish in my purse.) We returned home, and Mia was weirdly okay with still not having a second fish. She has taken this whole thing better than I have, so maybe I am doing something right with this parenting business.

Later that day, things took a turn for the worse.

I was busy with something when I noticed that familiar odor coming from the living room. (And no, it wasn't the dead fish. He was secure in his Ziploc bag inside my purse.) "Logan," I asked, "Are you poopy?" "Yes!" was his immediate response. Wonderful, at least he was honest. This is progress. At this point I am just hoping to have him fully toilet-trained before he is ready to head off to college.

So, I carried him into the bathroom to get him cleaned up, at which point he informed me that it was diarrhea and it had been running down his legs. The. Whole. Time. He got a bath, and so did the the floors.

That was exhausting. I was pretty sure that things were going to be looking sunny again after dinner, though, because we had purchased Frozen while we were out shopping. We were going to have a family movie night! (This is something I am told that good parents do.) We had not actually seen this movie before (and yes, I realize that we are practically the only people in in the known universe who hadn't -- except for some people in some obscure place like Timbuktu or something.) Anyway, our kids tend to be scared by new movies, and thus, we hardly ever go to them.

I was sure it would be fine, though, because ALL of America had told me so. "It's such a great family movie!" you all gushed. "Your kids will love it!" you claimed. "Full of positive messages!" you declared. Lies. All lies. I've been deceived, people! 

The kids were TERRIFIED, and not just once, but numerous times. In truth, the actual plot of the movie is very intensely frightening at times. While I will agree with you folks about the positive messages, I have to say that they are rather mature themes, and really are more appropriate for older kids. That said, who cares about the positive messages when each parent is holding a crying child (one of whom is half-hiding behind a couch cushion because he simultaneously wants to watch and doesn't want to watch) and making him or her to endure in order to get to the happy ending?

I went to bed feeling like crap because I had forced my kids to watch a scary movie because everyone else said it was okay. (And, also, I had just received a permission slip in the Friday Folder because the first grade teacher is planning to show it to the class this coming Friday, and I wanted her to have the experience of seeing it with us first!) What kind of messed up peer-pressure parenting is that?

Now, back to that dead fish in my purse... The Sunday school teacher told me after class that Mia announced, "My mom has a dead fish in her purse!" (Luckily, she has a good sense of humor and found this amusing, adding, "I love how brutally honest she is!") She noted that Mia had spent most of the time diligently working on a card that read, "Dear Blooeye the fish, I am praying for you! Love, Mia." I couldn't help but think that she should have invested some prayer power into Bluey II.

After church, we took a third water sample to the pet store after church, and I was relieved to hear that it was acceptable. (I did one thing right, at least.) Mia finally has her replacement betta, and nice orange fellow aptly called Orangey.

{What? You didn't expect a picture of the purse fish, did you?!}

After getting Orangey acclimated and then released into his new home, I returned down stairs and discovered that Ritzy was pulling things out of my purse -- including that Ziploc bag containing the remains of Bluey -- now not so fresh since we had made multiple trips to the pet store just for water sample testing. Thank God that dumb dog didn't figure out how to open the bag. (And God bless my child who let me unceremoniously flush the poor thing who apparently never stood a chance of survival.) I had dealt with enough messes for one weekend!

Morals of This Tired Mom Rant Story:

  1. Don't believe everything you hear! (Be it movie recommendations, or how to properly care for a betta fish. "They're really hardy," means squat if the water is uninhabitable.)
  2. Dead fish should not be kept in one's purse. Or, if you must keep a dead fish in your purse awaiting "burial" at least keep it out of the dog's reach.
  3. Being a mom is hard. I think this bears repeating.

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