Took a lot longer than I thought, too, to be perfectly honest.
But to their credit, it had absolutely nothing to do with the monsters. They were great with them. From day 1. Always remembered their feeding days. Never jostled or harassed the little buggers. And always made sure to say good morning and good night to both of them every single day.
It was surprising really how well they took to them. And, truly, even more surprising to have found poor little Errol upside down at the bottom of the tank yesterday morning.
And Saia, actually, is the one who noticed him first, but it was right before school, and not really something I was prepared to either get into or risk sending her to school carrying on her mind, so I said that I agreed he didn't look well, but we'd give him the day and check in with him after school when it was feeding time, although I wouldn't get my hopes up.
[Yes, that was in fact my feeble attempt at the old "your cat is on the roof" technique.]
And when we picked her up today, it nearly broke my heart to tell her we were right. They both just burst into tears immediately, and cried all the way home. He asked if we could take Errol to the vet. She wanted to know if we were sure Errol wasn't playing.
But once they saw him stiff and pale at the bottom of the tank, the reality of the situation began to set in, and she lashed out at me saying, "Well, maybe if you would've just given him CPR, he'd still be alive right now!"
[Ugh, yeah, babe. That wasn't gonna happen. I mean, I get the whole frog prince story, but in soooo many ways, that's just not my cup of tea.]
So she got some time alone in her room and apologized once she calmed her down. And we scooped him out with slotted spoon into a snack baggie filled with rose petals.
The kids each wrote a little good-bye note and read it at the gravesite. Saia used her little gardening tools to dig the hole before the rain came in. And Mommy even made a little cross with toothpicks.
Once we got back inside, she cried a little more, some of it genuine, but a lot of it really forced, so I had her write down her experience in her diary. She sniffled, and wrote, and purged, and wrote, and smiled as she drew a little picture of Errol swimming happily in his tank, and she really seemed to feel a little bit better. And then, much like that scene in Poltergeist after Carolanne's goldfish dies, she turned to me and said, "Mama, can I get turtle now?"