Archive for August, 2009


Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

A couple weeks ago while the kids were in Ohio my folks took them to the Harpersfield Ox Roast. At the event Fiona won three goldfish at that game where you try to toss pingpong balls into fish bowls. We forgot them in Ohio but they made their way to our house via PA and Cowahen Farm a week or two ago.

The fish have been living in this clear plastic container on the kitchen counter and Fiona had been doing an excellent job of feeding them. But the water was getting pretty dirty, so yesterday morning I emptied about half the water out and replaced it with tap water. I had some remembrance that this was less than ideal for the fish, but I figured that since I was just replacing half the water it couldn’t be too traumatic for the fish.

I was wrong. When I got home from work all three were floating on the surface. Uh-oh. When the kids got home I sat them down and told them I had some sad news. I had prepared Fiona for the fact that goldfish don’t live forever, so she asked casually if one of the fish had died. When I told them that all three had died she broke into big tears. I held her and comforted her while we talked about why they died, what it means to be dead, what we would do with them. Brendan didn’t show much emotion, but he did eventually carry in his stuffed dog Florida, on her back, and explained that Florida was dead too.

Fiona asked what makes animals die, so we talked about how bodies have lots of things that all have to work for an animal to live: heart, lungs, brains, etc. And that sometimes when something stops working the doctors can fix it but sometimes when something stops working then all the other things stop working too and so the whole animal stops working. She seemed to grasp this as well or better than I could have expected.

I gave her the option of flushing the fish or burying them. Inwardly I was rooting for the flush so I wouldn’t have to go dig, but of course she wanted to bury them. She explained that she didn’t want the guys working at the factory that cleans the water (the wastewater plant) to have to touch the dead fish. I helped her fetch one of the large stones from the back yard so she could create a Memory Stone to place on top of the fish grave. She dictated while I transcribed in Sharpie on the stone:

Dear Pinkie Pie, Brownie and Orangie,
I hope you had a good life. I hope you have a good time in heaven.


Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Monday was Fiona’s first day of kindergarten. The whole family drove to CPS, dropped off Brendan, then Heather, Julia, Fiona and I walked over to MVCS. Fiona was equal parts excited and nervous. We’ve been talking about kindergarten a lot the last few months, so there had been a lot of buildup to this day.

We found her room with Miss Pendergast, room 116. She put her backpack with all the school supplies over against the wall with the others and we found her spot at one of the little tables. We walked over to the corner where the kids were to gather and said our goodbyes. She was a brave camper despite being pretty nervous.

After school she gets taken back to CPS with some other kids for after-care. So Heather and I both went to pick up B and F around 5:30. B was playing outside and was all red-faced and sweating from hard playing. The three of us walked upstairs and found Fiona happily playing with legos next to Johnny and Emma. Heather and I of course can’t wait to hug her and ask her a thousand questions, but when we walked in she just gave us a big smile and continued her playing.

I remember my mom and dad asking me about school sometimes and my response usually being along the lines of “uh, nothing really happened.” I guess it’s my turn to be on the receiving end of that same exchange.

We eventually got a little info from her. She had a great time, didn’t like lunch, liked her teachers, and was impatient with the Spanish portion because she already knew all the words. And besides, as she told me later, she already has a Spanish grandma so she doesn’t need a Spanish teacher (my mom was a high school Spanish teacher.)

One other memory – at one point the day before or morning of kindergarten Fiona was expressing some apprehension about kindergarten and mentioned that she really wished her teacher had long hair. We asked her why, and she just explained that she likes long hair better. Turns out that Miss Pendergast _does_ have long hair, so that was a small bit of relief Monday morning.

Purple Butterflies

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

After Heather and the kids got back from Cowahen Farm on Sunday I took Fiona to get a new backpack and school supplies for kindergarten. First we hit REI for a backpack. I was really hoping to get her a nice quality backpack rather than the lesser quality cartoon/movie/tv themed ones she has. Fiona frequently amazes me with her capacity to reason things out and make informed decisions rather than just knee-jerk, emotional reactions. I explained how these backpacks were more comfy and better built even though they maybe weren’t as exciting as a Dora, Thomas or Princess backpack. She entirely understood and agreed with me. We decided that she could decorate her backpack later with pins, etc if she wants.

Fortunately REI came through with something perfect. We quickly found a kid-sized Kelty backpack that was light purple with butterfly silhouettes. Of course we needed a fancy new water bottle to go in the mesh pockets too.