If all goes as planned, and - hey, why wouldn't it? - I'll be getting back to doing blog posts on a more regular basis. As I mentioned in the last post, the updates going forward will be more of a picture book. I'll still be providing some reflective information here and there about parenting, but I'll be more respectful of the kids' privacy now that they're getting older.
Along those lines, a few months back I was asked to write an article for the NICU Family Advisory Council at Alta Bates (birth place of M&M). There's a lot out there on premature birth, but nearly all the accounts are from the mothers' perspective. Nothing wrong with that, but I thought it would be a good thing to share the dad side of things. It's a bit long, but give it a read (ignore the errata on page 4 - we're a low budget operation). You can find it here.
On with the show.
When the kids first got their fish tanks, the occasional death of a fish met with a shrug from M&M. So, last spring, when one of Milo's five red platys bit the dust, I dutifully scooped him out, walked down the hall (probably whistling), and gave him the typical gold fish burial at sea. When I emerged from the bathroom, Milo's jaw was wide open and - between his sobs - he pointed at me and said, "You [sob]! You flushed Robin down the toilet!" He was right, of course, that's exactly what I did.
I tried to settle him down, I think I told Milo there were "other fish in the sea" (not helpful), and I read him a Berenstein Bears book about the death of the family fish. When you hate the Berenstein Bears as much as I do, that's real sacrifice. Unfortunately, the book involved a complex burial and Milo was pretty upset that we didn't offer Robin the full Berenstein funeral rights. I promised him we would next time, and explained that there are many valid burial traditions. He needed to keep an open mind. After all, daddy was merely using the crappy-insensitive-father-who-didn't-consider-his-five-year-old-son's-feelings ceremony.
Then things went from bad to worse. After stories, Milo went to use the potty and sitting there in the bottom of that lousy, low flow California toilet was that dead fish. Not good. I spent the next hour constructing a small coffin out of a cardboard, digging a grave, and ensuring a proper headstone marked the spot. Of course, within a couple days, a raccoon dug up the grave, tore open the casket, and ate whatever was left of Robin. I discovered this as the kids were walking out our back door toward the grave to pay their respects. Naturally, I quickly kicked the remnants of the match box coffin under the grill with one foot, and then pushed sand back in the hole with the other. Somehow, the kids never noticed.