Thursday, May 31, 2012

R.I.P, Mr. Fishy

M loves fish.

Our local Walmart used to have fish tanks and as a toddler, M knew exactly where they were.We'd enter the store and he'd immediately point in the direction of the fish tanks.  I'd push M in the shopping cart to the tanks and he'd squeal with delight at the fish.  I'd stand there with M in the cart, watching him watch the fish.  It was the first thing he ever took a true delight in.

M had never really shown genuine interest in anything and seemed to lack attachment. He never had a favorite toy or stuffed animal.  He never had a favorite television show and never cared for the image of a particular character to be printed on his pajamas or sippy cup. Of course he was amused and entertained by these things, but he never had a "favorite" anything.  Frankly, he couldn't have cared less.

This bothered me.  When people asked what M liked, I would imagine what a typical boy M's age would like and I would answer accordingly. Basically I lied through my teeth.

But now, he liked fish. Now, when people asked what M liked, I could say that he liked fish.

We celebrated M's third birthday by taking him to the aquarium.  He loved it.

At the age of five, when M was in the hospital having major kidney surgery, I found a lamp in the hospital gift shop that looked like an ocean.  Images of fish moved through the blue glow of the ocean light.

When M turned seven, I bought him a small desk top fish tank for his birthday.  While we shopped for it, Miss J found a Sponge Bob figurine and placed it in the tank.  (My love-hate relationship with Sponge Bob could inspire an entire blog entry of its own, but basically M loves Sponge Bob.  I do not share this sentiment, however, when your child with special needs shows a genuine interest in something, you go with it.)

When we revealed the tank to M, his face was blank.  M was unimpressed.  I finally realized that M probably didn't understand the purpose of the fish tank without fish and water in it.

Together we set up the tank.  He carefully poured in the gravel and added the water.  Miss J placed the Sponge Bob figure and the artificial plant. I took him shopping at a local pet store and told M to pick out a fish for the tank.  He picked out a red and blue guppy.

Depending on the day, he would tell you the name of the fish was "Sponge Bob" or simply "Fishy."  

M would insist each night that the colored lights within the tank be left on so he could watch the tank as he drifted to sleep.  In the morning, M would take a pinch of fish flakes from the food jar and would drop it into the tank.

Yesterday, Fishy went belly up.

IN a "Bad Mother" moment and caught up in the business of my own life, I forgot to tell M.  I also forgot to take Fishy out of the tank. I put "Flush Fish" on my mental To-Do list in the midst of running my errands.

I didn't get to it soon enough.

This afternoon, M was playing happily in his room.  I had been folding laundry in the living room.  M flew out of his room and ran to me, crying.

"Mama!" he cried.  "My fish died!"
"Yes, bud.  Fishy died.  I'm sorry."

M cried for half a minute before announcing to me that he was going to watch tv.  He'd already moved on.

I feel sorry that Mr. Fishy died, yet at the same time I am a bit happy.

I am happy that M noticed the fish was dead.  I am happy that M has some degree of understanding that there is a difference between living and dead.  I am happy that he showed genuine emotion, no matter how brief it may have been.

I am thankful for these little revelations that Mr. Fishy's passing brought to me. I am thankful for anything that helps me know my son better.

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