So for the rest of the summer, Conner has been living in suspense, wondering if he would get any fish for his birthday or not. He helped me clear out a great little spot on his desk so he'd be ready, "just in case" he got some.
When he woke up this morning, he knew today was the day he'd find out. Gammie and Poppy were on their was here to play putt-putt with us and celebrate Conner's birthday. (Read more about that here.) And of course, he was not disappointed. He got to open a big box containing an aquarium right off. Then he opened a few more fish supplies presents, we got the tank set up, we went to play putt putt, and finally we were off to the pet store.
I only have one picture of Conner looking at the fish, and sadly, no pictures of him proudly holding a little bag with fish swimming inside. We were told that it was against the (un-named) pet store's policy for photographs to be taken inside the store. We never did get a good reason for why...but that's what we were told. When they told us that though, I already had one. And I'm not deleting it. So here's Conner shopping for his first fish:
That kind of makes me feel like sticking my tongue out and saying, "Nana Nana Boo Boo." :)
Conner really did some good shopping. He read the names of all of the fish, Poppy helped him know if the tank he had gotten was big enough for them (it's a kind of small tank for a kind of small kid in a kind of small room in a kind of small house)...and we ended up with a Red Mickey Mouse Platy, a Gold Mickey Mouse Platy, and a Dalmation Molly.
What a perfect fish for a kid! Conner was very careful with his bag of fish. He let them ride in the basket until we were out of the store, then carried it with both hands through the parking lot, and let it sit in his lap on the way home. And as we drove home, Conner was very sweet to explain to the fish that they were his now. He would be taking care of them at his house, and he was going to make sure that they had everything that they needed.
When we got home, the tank had already been put together and filled up with treated water, so that it could be room temperature. As Poppy had taught him, he set his bag of fish in the aquarium water for a little while so that they could acclimate.
He was so sweet, he sat in his room and watched them and talked to them for the whole twenty minutes of acclimation. As he watched them, he began to become a bit concerned. Spotty (the Dalmation Molly) seemed to be picking on Mr. Red and Mr. Gold (the Mickey Mouse platys). He was right. Spotty was definitely being a bully. And upon closer inspection we learned that Mr. Red really didn't seem to be looking too good. And by the time the acclimation was over and the fish were realeased from the bag, it became obvious why Spotty was picking on Mr. Red.
That's Mr. Red laying there on his side on the gravel. He was barely alive at this point. Conner was beside himself. After so much talk about needing to be responsible, that it was his job to make sure that his fish had everything they needed so that they could be healthy...in tears, "But I took really good care of them. I didn't shake the bag like in Nemo. I don't know what I did wrong. Poor Mr. Red! This is the worst birthday ever!" It was pathetic, I'm tearing up now just remembering.
But after we explained to him that sometimes fish are alrady sick in the pet store, and that this wasn't his fault, he seemed to be a little better. And when we explained to him that it happens so much that the pet store had even given us a 14 day guarantee, and that we'd go get him another one in a little while, he was better.
We ate our cake, and Conner decided that he needed to share half of his cake with Mr. Gold and Spotty. Knowing that only fish food goes into the aquarium, not people food, he just put their piece next to the aquarium so that they could enjoy it by just looking at it. :)So after cake, and after Gammie and Poppy left, Bret took Conner back to the pet store. He came home with another Red Mickey Mouse Platy, this time named Phineas Fish. (As in the Disney's show Phineas and Ferb - Phineas has red hair.) And somewhere along the way, Mr. Gold's name was changed to The Golden Retriever - sung like "The Masked Retriever" on an episode of the Backyardigans. I'm not sure yet if we'll have to sing his name everytime we say it. That could get old. :)
We were all relieved when Phineas Fish made it through the acclimation process, and even had a little snack. A little later when it was bedtime, the boys decided to use the light of the aquarium as a nightlight, and lay down where they could watch Spotty, Phineas Fish, and (hear me singing) The Golden Retriever swim as they went to sleep.
Thanks Gammie and Poppy! And thank you Bret, for being willing to take the lead on being the fish-taker-career-of parent. Hopefully they'll all make it through the night...