The plan was to move Giles, Elijah’s goldfish, into his younger brother’s room. Elijah is a teenager now with teenagerish things on his mind and agenda – things less aquatic in nature. Benjamin, however, was chomping at the bit to become a first-time pet caretaker. Elijah and I having both grown weary of me handing out reminders to “Clean the tank, clean the tank, clean the tank,” set a date for the transfer of ownership. That date was yesterday. I cleared my calendar to make it happen, as neatly as possible, while the kids were at school. There would be algae scrubbing involved and the dumping of yuck-infested water.
While kneeling in the bathtub washing fishy smelling gunk off the glass of the aquarium, I thought about my youngest boy, my middle child, looking forward to bonding with a fifteen cent goldfish originally purchased along with a goldfish training kit as a Christmas present one year ago. Giles would be yet another hand-me-down bestowed upon my third-born, so used to being outfitted in his older brother’s used shoes, jeans, t-shirts, and being duped into cooperating with his siblings’ ideas of fun. I thought about how hard it must be sometimes to be the lone firecracker in a house of sparklers, the only morning person in a family that cannot take operatic singing and stream of consciousness type soliliques before 8:00 am. No, Ben; Quiet, Ben; Not now, Ben; It’s too early.
An hour later I was at the pet store, picking out festive looking platys and one comical grey-spotted bottom feeder, none of which were on my original shopping list, and added them to my cart containing gravel, gravel cleaner and new plants, also not on that said shopping list. Back at the house, I worked furiously, joyfully, on preparing Ben’s bedroom for the addition of not one pet, but six, all swimming happily in their new and improved extreme makeover of a habitat. I couldn’t wait to surprise him.
It was just a little gesture, really – an “I see you, and appreciate you, and believe in you” motherly nod in Ben’s direction – but an important one for both of us. It’s good to make a habit of looking up from the schedule of what needs to get done and into the hearts and souls of my family members, each with their own surprisingly distinctive needs, gifts and personalities. It’s crucial to seize the day, made up of endless ripe opportunities to forge edifying connections. I don’t ever want to forget that. I cannot afford to forget that.
Today, before the others were up, Ben and I marveled all over again at the gracefulness and beauty of his new finned roommates. He’d been thrilled to find them waiting for him on the dresser when he came in to drop off his back pack, and had spent much of the afternoon and evening naming them (Goldie, Goldie Jr., Black Belly, Angel, Sparkle and Sucker), observing them, and reading directions on how to care for them. The fish make it peaceful in here, he told me. They certainly do, I agreed.
Here’s to more and more and more peace within this home, within this world!