Meg and Clare don't know there was a predecessor. Herman was an Easter Bunny gift. The day before Easter I covertly went to one of the chain pet stores and bought the fish as well as the bowl and other supplies. After the girls went to bed, I made the fish a cozy habitat and added the fish to the bowl. By morning--when the girls were coming out of their room to see what the Easter Bunny had brought--the fish was nose down to the rocks. Meg, who was then three-years-old, wanted to know why he didn't swim. We said, "He's adjusting to a new home and is probably sleeping a lot."
It was then time to call our friend Nicole into action. She went to the pet store to buy a replacement fish. Our plan was that she would replace the fish at our house while we were at an Easter gathering in D.C. While we were at this gathering, Meg began to tell everybody about her new fish and demonstrate how the fish slept with his nose down to the ground. All the adults (whom we had quietly told about the dead fish) had to restrain from laughing as our poor three-year-old was clearly acting out the actions of a dead fish. By the time we returned home, Herman (who received his name from an episode of Caillou) was swimming happily around his bowl.
The second Herman's most challenging experience came about six months later. His bowl sat on a sideboard in our living room and, for some reason, a stuffed cat had ended up on the sideboard beside his bowl. Clare decided she needed that cat. She pulled a chair up, reached for the cat, and managed to pull over Herman's bowl. Herman went flying. I promise you, that fish flew out of his bowl and did somersaults in the air. We didn't see where he had landed. The whole family began searching. We found him and put him securely back into his bowl, but we didn't hold out much hope he would survive the experience. But he lived. Herman lived through our move. He lived through my forgetting to remind my husband to feed him while we were on a trip. He lived through my not cleaning his bowl as often as I should. But finally he could live no more.
The girls were a little sad at Herman's death. They didn't want to be around for his disposal. Instead, they listened to the Dies Irae from both the Mozart and Verdi Requiem...until Clare informed my husband the music might give her nightmares and they began listening to techno dance music instead. They've begun planning for a new pet. Meg is hoping for a guinea pig (though she calls it a gerbil pig). We've convinced them to wait for now.
Poor Herman. He was a good fish.