Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Mad Scientist

My two boys are SpongeBob SquarePants fanatics.

They are maniacal about their obsession.

The dinner table is often the preferred arena for reciting lines from their favorite episodes.

This year, their bizarre behavior did not escaped the careful eye of Jolly Ole Saint Nicholas. So, the ever omniscient observer in the bright red suit, brought them this ingenious invention:

A life-like representation of Bikini Bottom

We had a blast setting up the "absorbent-and-yellow-and-porous is he, pineapple-under-the-sea" aquarium. It was very inexpensive and came with everything, except the fish. The boys loved it. It seemed to be, by far, one of my better finds for a cool and care-free Christmas present.

Or was it?

Yes, dear readers, I am sorry to report, this ingenious idea may not have been such a clever one after all. Let me explain.

When I was a kid, I took a trip to our local fair and won a fish from successfully throwing a ping pong ball into a small goldfish bowl. You may remember the game?

But the thrill of my victory was short-lived and poor Romeo was kept in his glass bowl where rarely, if ever, his water was changed. Despite a few failed attempts at "jumping-out-of-the-bowl" suicide, he was indestructible, living for many years, in stagnant and murky water.

 Perhaps it was the memory of that hardy, low-maintenance fish that made me believe an aquarium would be a more humane and easier environment to keep clean and display a few furless, finned friends.

I was wrong.

It appears that I am aquatically ignorant.

With the introduction of our new aquarium, I  have transformed into nothing short of a mad scientist.

Who knew, there were things like ammonia, nitrates and chlorine levels that need checking. Who knew that cycling a fish tank is the first step in preventing what's called New Tank Syndrome, a toxic form of cloudy water that can kill a fish as fast as you can say "love that dirty water"!

I have been doing my best to perform test samples of the water, checking the pH and ammonia levels. I have made frequent water changes. I have mixed unusual concoctions of powders, liquids and noxious chemicals. All of this to ensure a crystal clear environment that promotes the favorable well-being of our newest family member.

I have become obsessed.

My new lifestyle caring for this aquarium has become like a new mission in life for me, a lifelike microcosm and all-too-familiar representation of the role I play every day in caring for my children.

What on earth was I thinking?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Lisa Peters writes about family life at

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy New Year!