Introducing the surprise new member of the Shrader family, Ella Michael. Thankfully, not the unexpected “oops” you normally hear about. But, although a better alternative for our completed human family, still a surprise.
How, you ask, do you end up with a surprise fish? OK, other than the fair and those last about 24 hours so they do not count. Well, let me tell you how.
Have you ever read the children’s book by Laura Numeroff, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?” Well, let’s just say it happened like that except it would be titled, “If you give a MiMi a Reagan.”
You see, our sitter needed a day off and neither Paul or I could take off of work. So, we went to our village. Immediately, my cousin Maria, also known as Aunt MiMi, and her kiddos volunteered. With a few days of school left for Maylie, MiMi got Reagan to herself for most of the day.
Somewhere along the way, Reagan mentioned she wanted a fish. Had Reagan ever asked Mommy for a fish? No way! She knew that Mommy and Daddy had their hands full with two rambunctious little girls and had no time for a pet.
But, smarty-pants Reagan knew just how tightly wrapped she had MiMi around her little finger and that her only chance at a pet would be through her. She read her like a book. In fact, maybe the title of this ordeal should really be, “If You Give a Reagan A Mimi.”
Oh, and Aunt Mimi did not disappoint her. Without even a warning to Paul and I, they made a stop at the pet store. In complete bliss, Reagan not only picked out a very specific betta, but MiMi made sure Reagan picked out a tank, rocks, treasure chest, filter, LED light and a pretty purple flowery thing to put in it (no doubt to try to win Mama over with my favorite color). I am telling you, this little girl knows what she is doing.
As the first picture came through from Maria, I laughed thinking it was a joke. It was not a joke. In fact, they even put it all together and made little Ella Michael right at home knowing if they just sent it all in pieces to me that the fish would never make it to the tank.
Sadly, they were probably right. After all, when I transported that fish home, I forgot about it in the car for almost an hour. With the heat from the sun that day, little Ella Michael almost became boiled Ella Michael. Thankfully, the fish was not harmed that day.
However, every day since has been filled with worry over whether or not Little Ella Michael is alive. You see, this fish likes to play games with me. Seriously, sleeping sideways at the very top of the tank is her favorite position. You know, exactly what a fish would look like if it croaked. But, give the tank a little wiggle and up it goes looking at me like, “What? I’m fine! I was just sleeping.”
Listen, I am not a fish mom! I do not need this kind of anxiety. I mean, I really don’t want the fish, but I don’t want it to die! Heck, even Paul has a soft spot for this darn fish, reminding people not to tap on the tank glass. “How would you like it is someone tapped on your tank?”
Well, Paul, since I don’t live in a tank and I am not a fish, I don’t know. I just wanted to make sure Ella Michael was still with us.
And then, the next thing I know, I am googling betta fish. Fun fact: betta fish have a special organ called the labyrinth organ which allows them to breathe air from the surface. They can even survive out of water for short periods as long as they are kept moist. I suppose this explains Ella Michael’s favorite sleeping position or at least helps me deal with it a little better.
Another fun fact: Ella Michael was formerly known as Michael, which was decided by the girls together. It wasn’t until the girls later decided it should be a girl and not a boy — and, well, who really knows what sex a betta fish is anyway — that it became Ella Michael.
So here we are. A once-content family of four is now a family of four with a fish, all thanks to Aunt MiMi. Or all thanks to Reagan.
Or maybe more accurately, all thanks to me. After all, I should have known that if I gave a Reagan a MiMi, anything could happen.
Welcome home, Ella Michael.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.