• Our daughter Jessica fell in love with fish when she was 2. A trip to Wal-Mart was never complete without a pass by the aquariums, and among her repertoire of animal noises she could pucker her lips and make fish sounds.
For Valentine's Day, my husband decided to get her two gold fish and a small aquarium. She aptly named her new pets Hugs and Kisses, then informed us that they must have a castle in their tank.
About two weeks later, Jessica announced Hugs was "sleeping.” I hadn't prepared myself to explain death, and I found myself agreeing with her. I called my husband at work, thinking he could stop on the way home and grab a new fish. He forgot, so I devised another plan. I removed Hugs when Jessica wasn't looking, then suggested that he was in the castle. A new fish was in place the next evening and she never suspected a thing.
I'm ashamed to say that this happened three more times. Once, Kisses was "in the castle” for four days before reappearing. It was 6 months and a handful of dead fish before we decided honesty was healthier and easier. She took the news well, and asked if we could get new fish.
Considering our track record we said no, but did get her an artificial battery-operated aquarium that she enjoys to this day! Ginny of St. Charles, mom of Jessica, 6, and Erica, 3
• When my sister got married, she came back from the honeymoon with three goldfish. My sons love them. My sons love talking with them because they are truly part of the family. They love to tell the fish jokes. Supposedly, the fish answer them back. Clever fishies. Kim of Woodridge, mom of Alex, 7, and Greg, 4
• Right after Sept. 11, I persuaded my husband, Pat, to get a dog. I found a 7-month-old female American Bulldog on the Web at www.animal welfareleague.com. My son, Tim, and I went to the shelter the next day and took her to the "get acquainted room.” She came to me, then went over to my son and sniffed him. About a minute later, she fell asleep at Tim's feet.
She looks like "Petey” from the "Little Rascal's” show. We immediately took a liking to her and adopted her. We renamed her Hally (named after the dog in the children's book by Dav Pilkey). Lily of Oak Lawn, mom of Tim, 9
• We have a 5-year-old Shetland sheepdog named Lucy that we rescued about three years ago. Our first child, Stephen, was born in October. We wondered how Lucy would adjust to not being the only child anymore. Lucy loved Stephen from the first day. She has become Stephen's protector, guardian and playmate. She is afraid of thunderstorms, but will go to his room just to make sure he is all right. Best of all, Stephen loves his dog. My husband I are very happy that we have both of them and they are best friends. Christine of Westmont, mom of Stephen, 8 months.
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Reader poll... In September, we want to hear about your kid's fund raising. Is it too much? What do they have to do? Does it teach responsibility? Deadline: Aug. 11.
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