It was suggested, by my dear wife, that we give Lucas something special for his third birthday. The gift of life. No, not a new pancreas. A living thing. A fish, in this case. He loves SeaWorld, and this could be his little own aquatic entertainment park, a park with the added benefit of having in its sole, tiny tank an animal that won’t slowly go mad over the course of years spent in captivity.
“A fish”, I said, “is a bad idea. What happens if – when – it dies a week later?”
We have a pet, as you know – Mick, our beloved dog, our faithful canine companion, and the centerpiece of our eventual first conversation with the kid about Death. “Well, Lucas, Mick was an old boy, and now he’s up in Heaven with the other doggies, barking at the sun and chasing birdies through the clouds…what? Do I believe in Heaven? Er…well…oh, look, the Doodlebops are on!” Not something I’m looking forward to. As George Carlin once said, when you buy a pet, you know it’s going to end badly. You’ve just purchased a small tragedy!
Hopefully, that chat is a ways away. (Barring that, hopefully the Koreans perfect pet cloning, and barring that, hopefully I can find the Pet Sematary. Sometimes dead is not better.) I’m just not ready to talk to a three-year-old about what it means to die. I have this horrific vision of him wandering into the bathroom just as I’m sending Cleo The Goldfish “down the pipe where the pee-pee goes”. More to the point, he’s eventually going to have someone close to him – a pet, or a person – pass away. I’d prefer that he learns about that later, rather than sooner, because the first time it happens, something inside of you passes away as well.
So Beth agreed – no fish this year. He’s really liking soccer these days, so I suggested a little soccer goal for the backyard. Good game, soccer. Nobody ever got killed playing soccer, right?