- This weekend, our Biz e-Family headed out amidst the snow and -15 degree wind chill for a little trip to PetSmart. We needed to buy dog food, but it was also an opportunity to get the kids out of the confines of our home and a chance to see some animals. It’s like a poor man’s version of a trip to the zoo.
- The outing proved to be fruitful. We saw two beautiful harlequin Great Danes, which my kids had never seen before in their lives, so they were awestruck. One of the Great Danes was even deaf and responded to its owner’s sign language commands. That was pretty awesome to see. With only Yorkies at home for my kids’ frame of reference, seeing something as large as a Great Dane was mind-boggling – let alone one that knew sign language.
We also got to admire a cat which was available for adoption, and watch two little hamsters running a marathon on their exercise wheel. The kids were thoroughly amused. After we’d seen all the furry animals, we made our way to see the reptiles and a few colorful birds – Conures, Parakeets and Finches mostly.
Our journey through the aisles of PetSmart concluded at the fish and aquarium section in the back of the store, where we took a few minutes to watch a calico Goldfish (the kind with the real googley eyes on the sides of their head) swim freely and gracefully through the water of their tank. Well, all but two of them were swimming. The two that weren’t looked quite sickly and were just floating—albeit still upright—and sort of balancing themselves on a fake plastic plant that adorned their habitat.
“Aw, look,” stupid me said, “Their fins are down. I bet they’re sick.” Stupid me didn’t think that my daughter would pick up on this and become concerned.
- “Why Mommy?” she asked.“I don’t know honey. Fish can get sick just like people.”“Are they going to die?” She wanted to know.
Although I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into the talk of death with my three-year-old, I said, “Maybe.”
She knows the word “die” but really doesn’t understand the concept so that was my second stupid response.
“We need to help them,” she said with worry in her voice.
I looked around the store and noticed a PetSmart worker in a blue polo shirt helping another customer with a red scruffy beard wearing a camouflage jacket.
“That man will help them,” I told her. “He works here.”
I felt that response should’ve sufficiently answered her question and would’ve put her fears to rest. I was wrong.
“Let’s go tell him to hurry.” She insisted and tried to pull me in his direction to speak to the worker.
I was conflicted. On one hand, I was glad my daughter had a compassionate soft spot for animals, but on the other hand, I felt embarrassed to say something to the PetSmart worker who probably sees 10 fish a day die and could care less.
The PetSmart worker began walking our direction with Camo Man and before I could figure out the best way to handle the situation, my daughter had already blurted out.
“Man!” She hasn’t perfected the more polite form of interruption (“excuse me”) to address someone yet. “The fish are sick.”
I nonchalantly tried to play it cool and explained what she meant in my parent-voice (i.e. a little playful but not too condescending.)
“She means we saw some fish over there that may be sick.” I said to help translate for my daughter’s toddler English. I smiled to let him know I didn’t really expect anything from him.
“Oooooh, said the PetSmart worker in his parent-voice, “I’ll be sure to have the doctor go take a look at ‘em, thanks for lettin’ me know.”
As the PetSmart worker said this, he twist tied a bag of several feeder fish for the Camo Man he’d been helping.
The Camo Man with a sly smile on his face accepted the plastic baggie of fish, looked up at me and said “Paging Doctor Piranha … Paging Doctor Piranha.”
He was proud of himself and chuckled at his own joke.
I smiled and hustled my daughter out of the fish section, thankful she didn’t know what Piranha meant.
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