An Autism Diary

A day in the life of David Hartley


I don’t even know where to start on this one…

My mom left for a weekend trip this afternoon and since I was going to be in town anyway I told her I would feed her fish and make sure her house was locked up.  The fish she has are two pretty little goldfish that she bought and put in a small little fish tank that sits on one of the end tables in her front room.  She bought them specifically because of David and Joshua too.  They love to watch fish.  In fact, they love it so much I have to remember not to walk within seeing distance of the fishtanks at Wal-mart unless I have an extra hour or two to kill while they entrance themselves with their fishy friends. lol

While at my mom’s house, I had to step into another room for a few minutes to check on a couple of things and when I came back into the living room David had his arms elbow deep in the fish tank playing with the rocks at the bottom and Joshua was holding one of the fish in his hand “petting it and giving it kisses”…

I am not proud of my reaction as when I saw them I immediately shouted, “What are you doing?!?!” and ran over to the fish tank where I proceeded to pull David’s hand out and make Josh drop his fish back in the water.  They had managed to get into this mess in a matter of mere minutes and things were not looking pretty.  : (   The tank had lost a lot of water due to the splashing caused by David’s arm and the poor little fish that Joshua was holding was of course reaping some not so great results from having been messed with.  On top of this, I found rocks in the top of the filter and the water was a deep gray.

Bubbles and Favorite (David named them) (although tonight he apparently re-named one of them Gordon after his favorite train) are not doing very well and the kids are really upset about it.  David was completely heartbroken and started crying uncontrollably when he saw they were no longer ok.  I have to admit I couldn’t have helped the situation any either as in my panic and shock I forgot to keep my reactions in check and I know I said more than once “you killed them” when I saw the one Joshua dropped back in start floating belly up at first and the other one struggling to swim around in the gray water.  I didn’t say it loudly and definitely not directly at the kids, but they definitely heard it to my deep regret.

I don’t know how to clean a tank and I didn’t know where my mom kept her fish net (or if she even has one for that matter) so I wasn’t able to clean the water or even transfer the fish.  I did get the rocks out of the top of the filter though which helped the water clear up a bit…  I will be calling the pet store as soon as I can tomorrow morning to try and get some help.

In the meantime I am left with two sad little boys that are very worried about their friends and a very confused and heartbroken David.  (Contrary to what some believe and even say about him after witnessing some of his meltdowns and/or overloads, David is honestly a very kind and loving kid with a very deep heart.  Especially for animals…)  Both kids also asked Jesus to “take care of the fishies” for them and make them better.  A part of me was glad to hear them praying about it but another part of me was heartbroken because of them being in this situation to begin with.

I tried to reassure them that the fish would be okay one way or another by telling them that if they couldn’t stay and play with us that it simply meant they went to play with Jesus and reminded them that Jesus would take very good care of them.  To be honest, I didn’t know what else to say and the boys have not really had the lesson of “death” taught to them yet with them being so young.  (Although, there was that mouse David found one day… he seemed content in believing it was sleeping though no matter what I tried to say so I had him just “tuck it in bed” under the leaves in order to at least get him to put it down.)

Needless to say, times like these really pull at my heartstrings…  And especially while I was holding a sobbing David in my arms for who knows how long out in the van before we were able to go back home… poor little guy cried himself right to sleep because of it all…

All I know to do now is try to sleep if I can and pray God will help me tomorrow with the pet store, the fish, and especially my children…


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