in addition to a few other things, i work part-time as a nanny for a family with two girls who are quite independent and lovely to be with…for the most part.  as with every family, they have their quirks and issues and dysfunctions, but i suppose that’s what makes them a family…i enjoy them quite thoroughly.


anyway, i was with the 8 year old yesterday afternoon as we put together her new fish tank for her two new fish and one snail (to eat the fish tank gunk).  at the start of this project, she was pretty agitated and edgy and darn right rude to me.


my first reaction was to be a bit snarky in response to her irrational demands on me…and then i took a breath.  a long, calming breath.  and this is what transpired:


me: you seem pretty panicky right now.  do you know what’s happening in you? [a bit of a “grown-up” question, but I’m often amazed by how kids respond.]

her: yes.

me: [i was surprised she responded so confidently and quickly.]  oh, okay.  what’s up?

her: i’m just afraid they’re going to die.


we talked a little bit more about her fears of her beloved fish dying.  she calmed and we proceeded to have a great time together, laughing and making memories.


as i was driving home, i realized how familiar i am with the panic she described feeling.  it seems none of us hopeful mamas want our little ones to die—even fish mamas.  in her panic, she was anxious we’d do something to the fish or the water or whatever that would kill them.  listen, i know that panic well.  and the really shitty thing is that sometimes babies and fishies do die…sometimes they regularly die no matter how careful, loving, attentive, healthy, and desirous the mama is to keep them alive.