A Little Girl, A Birthday and A Piranha

Jan 11 2012

Anyone know where a busy mama can buy her kid a last-minute piranha?

Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be a fancy piranha. Or a trained piranha. Or a pretty piranha. Heck; it doesn’t even have to be a new piranha. I’ll take an old, stringy, barely alive piranha. In fact, given our abysmal record with fish – the last of which gave up the ghost two Thanksgivings ago (because there’s nothing like consoling your kid at the burial ceremony of his pet fish in the morning and then asking him what he’s thankful for by lunchtime to make him run crying from the table) – a piranha to which we have no time to become emotionally attached is pretty much ideal.

See, my baby girl turns 10 years old tomorrow, and her birthday requests are still a-rollin’ in. When you’re a kid, there’s nothing like Christmas Eve, or, in this case, Birthday Eve, to make a brand new wish that’s patently impossible for the mama to grant.

“Mom,” she said to me tonight while we waited in line at the grocery store, “I know I said I wanted a Slushy Magic maker that you had to order four weeks ago to get it here in time for my birthday, but what I really want for my birthday tomorrow is a piranha.”

“A piranha?”

“YES! A big, huge piranha!”



I feel like it’s important to pause the story at this point to tell you that I’m not kidding.

You guys,
I am not kidding.

“Aden, did you just say you want a piranha for your birthday?”

“YES! Oh, Mom! Please? Pretty, pretty please? I want a piranha so bad!”

Well, of course she wants a piranha. What kid doesn’t want a piranha?

I mean, she’s wanted a pegasus for years now, and they’re not really that much different, are they? A majestic, flying horse and its close cousin, the flesh-eating fish? Right. Exactly.

After all, this is the same child who, this very year, created a self-portrait of herself as a…

…well, as a rabid, grey wolf with excellent orthodontia, a terrifying and bloody dermatological problem, and an endearing refusal to adhere to cultural standards of eyebrow beauty.

Yep. When this kid says she wants a piranha for her birthday, I believe her.

Since I didn’t actually, you know, order that Slushy Magic package (or even, in fact, remember it ’til she mentioned it with such blinding confidence in me, her disorganized mother), I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the limited-time offer to buy my kid a dangerous aquatic animal.

“Well, sweetheart. I’ll see what I can do. But we might have to get a different kind of fish, because I don’t know if we can find an actual piranha in time for your birthday. Do you think maybe another kind would work? Like, maybe a stuffed animal fish? That way, you could even pet it! And that would be SO FUN!”

(Sue me. I’m not a fan of fish.)

“Mom, WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I don’t want a fish! I want a piranha. You know. A pir-an-ha? That thing that hangs up high and you beat with a stick?”

A wha…?



“Oh my gosh, Aden. Do you mean a piñata?

“Yes, Mom! You got it! A piñata!     …      Mom?     …       Mom?        …       Why are you laughing, Mom?”

Because you make me so very happy, Aden. That’s why.

Today is Birthday Eve for my Aden girl.

I held her face in my hands before bed tonight, and I gazed into her giant brown eyes until she said, “Um, Mom? What are you doing?”

What every mama does, baby. What every mama does. These are the very last minutes I get to spend with 9-year-old you, so I’m taking a picture to carry in my heart.

Happy 10th birthday, baby girl.

I cannot wait to see what you do next.