As this blog has reached it’s 8th year, it seems the majority of the entries over the years have reflected some mind-blowing child maturation or some life-affirming moment that Iris and Robyn have brought into our lives. Well, you get 2-for-1 here.
As the school year finished off, Iris’ science teacher had the great idea of giving each of the students a goldfish. Now, in the context of this story, my use of the term “great idea” may come off as sarcastic, but I am serious in that I really thought it was a great idea. Learning about nature, having some responsibility, bonding with a pet that doesn’t require walking or trips to the vet. This I could handle. But the first time I met Daisy, I looked in and just saw a floating fish. Immediately, I thought the worst. Oh damn, the fish is dead already. Suddenly, I started to think about the same kid that cried at the end of Charlotte’s Web. How was I going to handle this? Fortunately, false alarm and Daisy lived to see another day. Well, seven, actually…
A week later, Cherise and I go out for a date night. When we returned and I headed upstairs to tuck the girls in, our nanny intercepted me and broke the news in a quiet whisper. “Daisy died and Iris is really sad.” Iris wanted to break the news to me herself (thus, the whispering), but I appreciated the heads up. As a parent, these things tend to blindside you and I needed to be prepared. I slowly proceeded to enter the bedroom, all set to be the shoulder she was going to weep uncontrollably into.
“I have some really bad news. Daisy died today.”
And that was it. Not unemotional, but controlled, subdued, and mature. No sobbing. No “it’s not fair!”, even though it wasn’t. And I’d swear that she was almost more concerned about my feelings than her own. She came off as a surgeon whose patient died on the operating table and she was breaking the news to the family. I leaned in to give her a huge and told her how sorry I was to hear the news. Her response kinda blew me away.
“She didn’t live very long, but we were lucky to have her, weren’t we?”
What? Seriously? Two days ago, you threw a fit because your mother forgot to brought the wrong colored jacket to the park and now you’ve managed to put death in a perspective that most adults are incapable of? I wasn’t sure if I was proud or a little freaked out. Amidst my shock and awe, I managed to gather myself up enough to remind her how lucky Daisy was to have her. She responded, “Yeah, just like it’s lucky that you have me and I have you.” I know it’s just a fish, but watching her six-year old mind at work was stunning. I walked out of the room, just a little overwhelmed by what I experienced.
Daisy wasn’t forgotten. A week later, at the year-end open house, Iris unveiled a castle she built out of cardboard and flying on the mast (perhaps at half mast) was the sign that said “Iris & Daisy’s Castle”. As I recall, she even had a special room for Daisy (not morbid–she started the castle before the fish died and saw no reason to change it since it was indeed an imaginary castle). When we ran into the Science teacher at the end of the open house, Iris broke the news to him as well in that same mature but somber tone. And we even talked about getting another fish. We hear betas live longer…