Today was just your typical summer day in middle-class America.
Except not, because the boy decided to get up at the crack of 7:30, which he hasn’t done since school let out at the end of May. Hubs and I (back when we weren’t what everyone refers to as “real parents,” because we only had one child) used to beg the boy to PLEASE! STAY IN BED JUST A BIT! on the weekends and the summer mornings, but that boy of ours was an early riser.
He’s also very attuned to seeking permission for things, because it didn’t matter that we would tell him fourteen times on Friday nights, “Listen. You DO NOT have to wake Mama up when you wake up in the morning. You may just get up and go watch TV, but watch it very, VERY quietly, and Mama will get up sometime before you need lunch.” Every Saturday morning, without fail, the boy would tiptoe into our bedroom at 5:30 in the morning, poke me in the shoulder, and whisper, “Can I watch some TV now?”
And then that was it for the sleeping in.
This went on for all the years that Hubs and I have been parents, and then… this summer happened. The boy has become a hamster, who just prefers to stay awake until after the midnight hour, and then he burrows down in all of his straw and wood chips to sleep until 10:30 in the mornings.
God bless his precious heart, because now Hubs and I have Thing 2, who loves an early morning even more than his older brother used to. I’m sure we’ll get some special recognition at the awards ceremony in Heaven one day, in which Jesus crowns us with diamonds and gold and says, “And these crowns go to Hubs and Mama, who considered it all joy to get up early every single morning of their parenting careers.” There will then be much clapping and the rushing sound of angel wings, before the NO CALORIE AND ALL THE FLAVOR cheesecake buffet is opened up.
The boy got out of bed at 7:30 today, and by 7:40 he was cleaning his fish tank.
I had no idea whose son he was. I’ve only been asking him to clean that fish tank since the middle of March. Over the course of months, the tank became more of a swamp habitat, and I feared we’d be raising baby alligators in there before too long. If there’s one thing I don’t want in this house, it’s snakes. If there are two things I don’t want in this house, it’s snakes and alligators.
I even went as far as to tell the boy yesterday, “I can’t believe your fish are even alive in that tank. I would hate to be one of those fish, swimming in water when I couldn’t even see my own tail behind me. I doubt they have much longer to live, before their gills clog with slime and they suffocate.”
And behold! This morning our boy scrubbed that tank until it was gorgeous. He put his fish back in, and I said to him, “Wow! Those fish must be so happy being fresh water fish again, instead of swamp fish.” And then we went to Walmart, because we go to Walmart every day. I can never remember to get everything we need in one trip.
When we came home, the boy’s fish were dead.
All two of them.
We trouble shot everything. The water was the right temperature; the chlorine-removing drops had been added. I think moving into a Park Avenue high-rise aquarium with a maid who actually cleaned things, after living in a 5th wheel trailer parked along a riverbed in the deep lagoons of the South was simply more than those little fish could handle.
I have no words, other than perhaps I was wrong about the fish needing a clean tank in order to stay alive.
After the fish had gone to be with Jesus, the boy scooped them out of the tank and asked, “Can I give these to the cat and watch her eat them?”
And that obviously sums up his emotional attachment to those two fish.
I can only hope that the replacement fish that we bought this afternoon will fare better in the Clean Tank of Death than the former occupants did.
In other news, Vacation Bible School is still going on each evening at our church. I’m still working in the kitchen, diligently cooking trail mix by pouring raisins and miniature marshmallows and pretzels and M&Ms into Ziploc baggies for the kids. Christy and Carrie are still helping me. We’re still laughing like drunken hyenas together, and the air conditioning unit in the kitchen is still on the fritz.
Which means sometimes it’s cooler outside when it’s 97 degrees than it is inside, and yet our mission work still goes on. We simply pretend that we’re sharing the gospel with children in the Sahara Desert, as we feel the sweat begin to mildew our T-shirts.
We had to laugh, because Carrie told us that her five-year-old son, Ryan, came home from VBS last night and announced, “Mom, I found the girl that I’m going to marry at Bible school tonight. I don’t know her name, but I saw her, and I love her very much now.”
And, people, if you can’t find true love at Vacation Bible School, where can you find it?
I think my homemade trail mix was a love potion.
Y’all have a happy weekend, and just remember: Sometimes fish are actually more comfortable swimming in sludge than they are in crystal-clear water.