Surviving the multi-pet household: Winky Saves the Day

First entered in June 2010

Yesterday was the first full day of Lindsay’s summer vacation so I decided to do something memorably fun. I packed my little family into the van for A Water Park Adventure. Forty-five highway minutes away, it came highly recommended by some fun-savvy neighborhood kids. It was hot—but not too hot–and my kids love water…it sounded perfect. We left early to be right at the head of the line: get in, get wet, get home for Bodie’s one o’clock nap.

As we rolled into the already-crowded parking lot, Lindsay looked up at the tunnels that snaked through the park—tunnels that, in fact, composed about 95 percent of the park–and announced, “I’m not going in any tunnels.”  OK, no big deal. I know she’s not a daredevil. There’s always Croc Creek and the kiddy pool. We got on line and I continued my park patter: Boy, I bet the Bullet Bowl is fun! And we can eat snacks under the Funbrellas! Quiet, Lindsay was reserving judgment.

We snaked our way to the front of the line and my non-stop water park tour guide routine came to an abrupt end at the ticket booth: “That’ll be $95 please.” Wait. Ninety-five dollars? As in almost a hundred? For a few hours in an over-crowded kiddy pool? Roman suggested the same effect could be obtained for free at our town pool. “But we’re here!” I said in lame defense of my ill-fated plan. Lindsay, sensing parental waffling, began to fidget and make those little sounds that indicate that a mild tantrum may be just around the corner. I felt the line behind us growing impatient. OK, it was my idea to begin with, so I took the decision-making reins: we’re outta here. Lugging our cooler and cheerily ironic “Life is Good!” beach tote, we left with as much dignity as possible, considering both our children were screaming.

Once the kids were firmly strapped into their car seats, the guilt portion of the trip began. Mommy ruined the day. Dragged them aaaaaaall the way out here for nothing. Nothing! OK. I did promise a Day Of Fun and failed to deliver. And it was the first full day of summer vacation…so maybe a peace offering was in order. A rare fast-food lunch? No. Ice cream? Negative. I was seriously considering blowing the entire $95 savings on the much-coveted American Girl doll Lindsay’s had her eye on when she beat me to the punch: Can I get my new fish today?

A fish? Yes! One hundred times yes! A new fish was already on the to-do list since Jungle the betta fish swam on to his reward several months ago. The effect was immediate. The water park was but a dim memory as Lindsay began to tell Bohdan about the wonders of Petco. Turtles! Guinea pigs! Fish of every description! He was wide-eyed with anticipation. Plugging “pet store” into the GPS, we received our directions and wheeled into the Petco parking lot within minutes—not quite on two wheels, but almost. Salvation in a tank!

Standing in front of the Betta fish tanks, Lindsay studied them with a keen eye. “That one,” she said finally. “That one right there.” With a deft hand, the fish keeper scooped out an iridescent blue Betta fish, put it in a bag, twisted the top and handed it to my girl. Cradling the bag carefully, she gazed at her new friend. After a few minutes, she had decided: “His name is Winky.” The drive home was devoted to her plans for housing, feeding and generally fussing over Winky. “Mommy, I LOVE Winky.” she said seriously. Her happy chatter lifted my heart.

I kind of love Winky, too.