Today is Pet Owners Day. Who knew they had such a holiday but, golly gee, they do! Not only do pets bring us joy and companionship, studies have shown that pets are good for our health -- they ward off anxiety, depression, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and the list goes on.
In our home, we do not own a pet. I'm one of those allergic people -- any animal with fur makes me sneeze (or worse). Hence, I am just not used to the whole pet owner thing.
Kiddo inherited the allergy to cats, but she really wanted a pet ... so we bought a fish. A Japanese fighting fish, a beta fish. Name: Bubbles.
Bubbles seemed to like being with us. He had a bowl with a castle in it. Kiddo put plastic dinos by his tank to keep him company. We talked to him. But after about three months, Bubbles started to swim a little slower. His tank started getting murkier faster.
And one day, Bubbles died. As tears welled up in Kiddo's eyes, I did the unthinkable. I laughed.
It was straight out of that episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, when Chuckles the Clown died and Mary couldn't stop laughing at the funeral. That was me. I started giggling and could not stop.
When Bubbles kicked it, I knew this would be a pivotal moment in Kiddo's life. A huge teaching moment. Both of us stared at the fish bowl, at the non-moving pet. I tried in vain to stop snickering and think of what to say as she asked me question after question. There was a lot of talk about Bubbles (giggle) being old and going to a larger (tee-hee) fish bowl in the sky ... how that place is reached via a vast, masterful pipe system (ha ha ha) beginning with our toilet.
I tried everything to stop the giggles. I bit my inner cheek. I took deep breaths. I thought of horrible things. But the laughter would not stop. We said a few kind words about Bubbles and flushed him away. Kiddo's tears flowed faster, and I held her on my lap for about 13 minutes. We decided to draw him some pictures for his walls in that new big fish tank ... on toilet paper, of course. Only then did the giggles stop.
I know this happens to people all of the time. Laughing at inappropriate times. Could it have been I didn't know what to do, not having many pets of my own? Sure, maybe, but I'm not letting myself off of the hook. Say it with me: Worst. Mommy. Moment. Ever.
How do you handle a pet's death?
Image via merec0/Flickr