Twelve days ago, the school our kids attend held a Book Fair Carnival for the Lower School. Every class sponsored a booth. Games, popcorn, cake walk, bounce house, sack races, and temporary tattoos just to name a few of the fun activities for the kids to enjoy.
Since we’re new to the school, this was new to us. And apparently, it’s an annual tradition that one particular class sponsors a booth where the kids can throw ping pong balls into glass vases to win a goldfish. As you can imagine, the line was out the door to play this particular game.
Of course, our kids were just as excited as all the others to take their chance at winning a fish. And they were each willing to spend 12 of their tickets (6 tickets per kid, and we played twice) to throw ping pong balls into the glass vases. The first round didn’t go so well. So we moved on to some other games and came back for seconds at the end of the carnival.
By that time, the parents who were in charge of the fish booth were beginning to panic. Because the game was actually kind of challenging, they had an ice chest full of goldfish left. Someone was going to get stuck with enough fish to fill a large aquarium. So they started giving them away as consolation prizes even if the kids weren’t getting a ball into a glass vase. As a result, we came home with two fish.
I love animals.
And there was a season of our married life when we actually had two dogs.
Miniature American Eskimos.
One male and one female.
Kory gave me Daphne, the female, as a wedding gift. Two years later, after I graduated from law school and went to work full time, we adopted a male whose prior owner (for whatever reason) named him “Cupid.” (That was a low point for my husband. Two dogs of the “miniature” variety. The male neutered. And sporting the name “Cupid.”)
But even he’d admit, they were GREAT dogs. And they were our babies. Until we had human babies.
Well, they weren’t.
We did our best to keep up with the human babies and the dog babies and did a pretty good job until our third child was born. But then things got really challenging, and it all went downhill for the eskimos.
Sure we kept up with their basic needs, but we no longer took them for long walks. Or to the park. Sometimes, they went way too long without seeing the groomer. And we definitely stopped dressing them up for Halloween (clothing for animals was another low point for Kory).
There just wasn’t any time.
Daphne died in May 2009 at the ripe old age of eleven. And it was a really sad time for me. Cupid lasted until the Spring of 2013 and died when he was twelve right before we moved. And I was sad about that too. Both dogs died peacefully at home, though, which was such a blessing for our family. And we’re happy for the memories we have of them.
But as much as we loved our dogs, after Cupid passed, Kory and I declared that we were on “Pet Sabbatical.” And I suspect that will be the case for a long time.
I’ll tell you why.
We’ve been changing diapers for nine years people. Nine. Solid. Years. With no break. (This results from the fact that I’m the World’s Worst Potty Trainer. Just about the time one kid finally decides to “poopie in the potty,” we create another one.)
We’re up at 6:00 a.m. every day. And on Saturdays? Well, I usually wake up in a state of panic at about 5:30 a.m. wondering what day it is, where I am, and what I’ve missed. So I’m usually out of bed by 6:00 a.m. then too, even though the rest of my family slumbers until the late hour of 8:00.
Must be nice.
We have two kids in school full-time. And one kid in school part-time. At two different schools. On two different schedules. So drop-off and pick-up takes two hours each way.
We have swim lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays. Gymnastics on Tuesdays. And church, baseball, and children’s choir on Sundays. Not to mention the other unexpected events that get placed on the calendar each week. And the fact that my husband has regularly scheduled evening meetings.
We have spelling lists to review. Math facts to go over. And Bible verses to memorize. Every day. And we’re supposed to read for 20 minutes with each of our kids every night of the school week. Except for Wednesdays because that’s “free” night. But we’re at swimming on Wednesdays so there’s nothing “free” about that.
And the papers from school? We’re drowning in them. I had to create a drop file system for each kid just to keep up with all of the dress up days, special events, and projects that occur day-in and day-out. How many different ways can a teacher possibly use an empty toilet paper roll or milk carton?
We do at least 2 loads of dishes every day. Sometimes, I feel like all I do is load and unload the dishwasher. Kory says he feels the same way. One of us is lying.
And the floors? Well, they look like we actually eat off of them, so we sweep at least twice per day to keep up with the mess.
We make a minimum of thirteen school lunches each week. That’s 52 lunches per month. And 468 lunches per school year. (Not that I’m counting.)
Our washing machine spits out no less than 12 loads of laundry over the weekend. And even though the kids pitch in, it takes the entire weekend to get it all done.
Everybody needs something. All the time.
I can’t even go the bathroom in privacy. Unless I lock the door. And when I do, there is endless knocking on the other side. And people trying to slip things under the door. Seriously?
And when I finally decide I’m spent and TRY to take a nap? Despite the fact that I tell them not to wake me up unless the house is on fire or their legs are broken…THEY STILL WAKE ME UP.
There’s too much to do. And not enough time to do it.
(Oh, and I almost forgot. I have a job. That takes a lot of time too.)
It’s a blessed life. Really, it is. Not too different from many other American families of five. And I’m thankful every day for all that goes along with it. But why on earth would I add a member of the animal kingdom to my family tree knowing what I know now?
And yet, I’m now the proud owner of two goldfish. Thanks a lot Book Fair Carnival.
We brought them home from the carnival, and the kids proudly showed their prizes to Kory.
He looked at the fish.
He looked at the kids.
And then he looked at me.
And like a dog with his tail between his legs, without saying a word, Kory slowly got up out of the chair he was sitting in, walked out the back door (kids following), and got into the car to drive to the pet store to get supplies. On the way to the store, he talked to the kids about the responsibility of owning a pet. How they would need to feed the goldfish and change their water every day. The kids nodded in agreement, as if they understood.
When they got back from the store, they had two bowls, chemicals to treat the water, food, and two more fish (because, as you know, goldfish are social beings, and they need companionship). Fifteen cents each for the additional goldfish. THIRTY DOLLARS for the supplies.
The kids squealed with delight as their dad showed them how to take care of the fish. And I’ll admit that they’ve done a great job to this point.
But doomsday is lurking for Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Gracie, and Mario. I can feel it in my bones.
“Little bit” decided that he wanted to help care for the fish on Friday. Apparently, he is concerned about maintaining a germ-free environment for them. So he loaded up their bowls with hand sanitizer and the entire bottle of chemicals for the water. Our oldest caught him red-handed, so she was able to save the fish from premature death. But as she cleaned the bowl for the second time that day, she moaned and groaned about how she was sick and tired of cleaning out the fish bowl. How it takes so much work to have a pet. And how she wished that someone could help her. I could have told her all of that pre-fish.
But I’m standing firm with resolve. I’m not going to intervene.
I will not clean the fish bowl.
I will not clean the fish bowl.
I will not clean the fish bowl.
I will remind.
But I. Will. Not. Clean. The. Fish. Bowl.
Period. End of story. The end.
And I’m fairly certain that, sooner or later, we’ll end up with four dead fish as a result of my resolve.
But it’s a lesson in responsibility the kids need to learn.
And that, my friends, is why we don’t have a dog!