I am a firm believer in raising kids with responsibility. Part of that learning of responsibility comes with taking care of a pet. Pets are great companions. We have yet to venture into fuzzy friends, so most of our pet responsibility has been through fish.
I love fish. They can't go anywhere. You can make their tanks into a beautiful oasis that brings peace and tranquility to the observer. They have a level of manageable care that I've come accustomed to. If something happens (although all gods creatures are awesome), there is a lot less hullabaloo involved than taking something to the vet to be euthanized because of x, y or z.
My daughters have betta fish. We've kept them many ways and have had many live beyond 18 months, which I hear is a long time for some people. We've only had a total of 6 (one for each child, twice). We care for them, talk to them, feed them, clean their tank and love them. We keep them with the best intentions, but all good things come to an end. When one dies, we always have a burial and we always reflect on ways we can be better caregivers.
Recently we had a betta die. This is the conversation I overheard my children having.
Oldest: "Aw man. Ugh, my fish died. What did I do wrong?"
Middle: "Maybe you gave it the wrong name."
Oldest: "Really? (HEAVY SIGH) I'm so sad right now."
Middle: (IN A VERY MATTER OF FACT TONE) "Well I mean stuff dies. People die, pets die. You just gotta get over it"
Oldest: "Yeh, but I loved that fish."
Middle: "Well, think about what you can do better next time. Mine is a live still. I gave it an awesome name."
Oldest: "Maybe next time I'll get a red one. You always have a red one and they live the longest."
Middle: "Maybe that's not it. Maybe you need to give it a better name. I don't know. Maybe there won't be a next time"...
The conversation then trailed back into their bedroom.
Wow. I don't think I even needed to step in for that one. I just left them alone and began to think of the eulogy for her fish.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.