“Philip needs a fish tank.”
Sure, dear husband of mine, a fish tank might make Philip happy. But does he need a fish tank?
The first time that Peter asked if we could buy a fish tank, I simply reminded him of the joy that our newly-mobile son derived from climbing. The second time, I cited our then two-year-old’s pleasure in throwing objects. The thirtieth time (I’m guessing on the actual figure), I agreed that, while Philip enjoys looking at fish, I didn’t think having one in our house was a good idea. He loves playing in water, but one cannot play in a fish tank’s water.
Undaunted, Peter asked again around Philip’s third birthday. I said no.
He asked around Philip’s fourth birthday. I said no.
This winter, a few things combined to bring the idea back to the forefront. First, there was the field trip to the aquarium. Second, I put the reality show Tanked in our Netflix queue. I had no one to blame but myself when the request returned with a vengeance.
Worn done by the repetition, I thought I had put Peter off by agreeing that we would buy a tank for Philip’s fifth birthday in September.
In the meantime, Peter’s birthday was Monday. A few weeks ago, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday.
“A fish tank,” was his reply.
“I thought we were getting a fish tank for Philip’s birthday?”
“Well, buy it for me and then I’ll give it to him.”
What I realized in the midst of this bizarre conversation was that Philip never really needed the fish tank.
Peter picked out a five-gallon tank, and I ordered it online. He said it came with everything he needed to get started.
“You are in charge of this,” I told him. “I’ll take care of the dog, but I’m telling you now that you are responsible for the fish.”
Even I was a little excited when the tank was delivered on Saturday. Philip loves packaging, so he was happy as soon as I carried the box into the house. We carefully opened it and slid out the tank.
Then I saw the crack in the glass.
I wrested away the piece of styrofoam that Philip was trying to shred, we repacked the tank and then went to the store to exchange it. We had to go anyway since we needed to buy fish.
And a heater.
And a filter.
And fake plants.
And, for decoration, a plastic Easter Island head replica that apparently is the home of Squidward on Spongebob Squarepants. (For the record, I had to look that up.)
Our cart full of all of these items, I went looking for a sales associate so that we could pick out some fish. I found two employees moving cat food a couple of aisles away.
“Excuse me,” I said. “We need some help buying some fish.”
The older of the two women assumed an official stance and stated, “I can’t refuse a sale, but I do need to tell you those fish have ick.”
“Is that a technical term?”
Apparently it is, so we left the store with the rest of our paraphernalia.
Despite being fishless, we set up the new tank that afternoon. Philip loved it as it was, with the filter making bubbles and the fake plants gently undulating in the water.
First thing Sunday morning, Peter asked me, “When are we going to go buy fish?” He was nice enough to let me finish waking up and take a shower, but I had to get my coffee to go. We had to drive to the next city over to find ick-less fish, but we did end getting six for the price of four.
After they had time to get acclimated, we put them in the tank. Philip was delighted. Every time he left the room, he came back to check on the fish.
Later on, while Philip was upstairs playing, I said to Peter, “You know, these are kind of relaxing to watch.”
“Yup,” he agreed.
“As long as Philip’s not here making me anxiously think, ‘What is he going to do? What is he going to do?!'”
We both laughed at that.
So, for his birthday, my husband got a fish tank. Not only does he get to relax by watching them himself, he gets the added benefit of watching how happy the fish tank makes his son.
I guess he was right. Sometimes, you need a fish tank.
T is for tank as I blog along with the April A to Z Challenge.