Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Goldfish Assassin, A Guest Post

Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Vivacious Running Girl about weight loss, and I’m excited to welcome Susanna from Not June to Stephanie's Mommy Brain:

Historically, the most successful fish in my home have been Goldfish crackers.
Actual goldfish, not so much. My older son did not exhibit any particular athletic
talent as a very young child, except for his insane ability to chuck a ping pong
ball with amazing accuracy into a tiny cup at any and every fair we attended,
winning the coveted “fair fish.” The ultimate prize, who doesn’t remember as a
child bringing home their newest pet in a knotted off bag?

For two dollars of tickets to win the fish, and the ensuing $50 of supplies, we’ve
gone through this routine numerous times. Every time I get my hopes up, as I get
happiness from the thrill my son gets from his new friend. All settled in it’s new
bowl, it swims perkily around, defying it’s status as a feeder fish in the food chain.
A name is given, a feeding schedule is adhered to, hours are spent gazing and
talking to it. And then, one day, something goes horribly wrong.

The morning of my son’s first trip to Disneyland we discovered the first of our
fair fish dead on the bathroom floor, the victim of his goodnight kiss to them.
The next batch died within hours of each other, as if they were fans of “The
Notebook.” Some slowly died, prolonging the agony of their child owner and his
parents. No, son, fish are not supposed to swim upside down. One managed to
die inside the decorative volcano, leading to an extraction process involving a
chopstick, gloves and my husband humming Disney’s “Tiki Room” song as he
worked away. There have been burials “at sea” (read: flush) and burials in the
yard. After a county fair tadpole debacle last summer we finally threw in the towel
along with our growing tiny body count.

And yet, it was my younger son’s sole fourth birthday wish that he get pet
goldfish. Determined to do it right, I researched heavily online, made numerous
trips to Petco and consulted with friends who’d worked in pet stores in high
school. Hence William ended up with a ten gallon tank for two measly goldfish.
But they’re alive and thriving so far for THREE WHOLE MONTHS. I do not lie
when I say I checked the fish every night and morning the first few weeks while
my son was asleep to make sure they were still alive. But, best of all, I haven’t
had to pay out yet on the betting pool I put up on Facebook on when they’d bite

Then our babysitter called with a favor. She’d become the not so thrilled owner
of a pet goldfish after attending a kid’s party. In it’s little bowl it was not thriving
and she wanted to know if we could add it to our tank. Hesitantly I said yes,

on the condition that she take it first to Petco to be checked out and deemed
healthy. She did and it was. But when I first laid eyes on Dorothy the Goldfish, I
knew this would not go well. Fish aren’t supposed to sit.

I was caught between wanting to save the fish but not wanting to sacrifice the
ones I’d carefully cultivated and were such a huge source of joy for my son. She
and I watched the fish as it reclined on the gravel, perking up only as we jiggled
the bowl. She insisted that it just needed more room to swim, as visions of mass
fish death danced through my head. Then it started to float sideways, never a
good sign. Knowing deep down it wouldn’t recover from it’s feeder fish fate on
the food chain, I just ignored it until she finally couldn’t take watching it anymore
and decided to flush it and put it out of it’s slowly dying misery. At this point I
came down with a bad case of inappropriate stress laughter and had to leave
the room as she poured him into my son’s toilet. From the other room I heard her

Fleetingly, I thought of having her scoop the fish out and depositing him into
our tank. But, really, did I want now a possibly dying fish who’d been soaking in
toilet water in my prized tank. No, I did not. And so I became a goldfish assassin,
giving her the command to go ahead and flush him. Fingers crossed, we hoped
he’d make it out to sea like Nemo. Except that as a freshwater fish that would
kill him. June Cleaver would have never commanded a pet death, yet another
reason I’m not June.

Visit Life...Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!


Nancy said...

Damn you Susanna! I lost the bet I thought for sure I would win!! Sigh...

Patricia said...

I was afraid this would be about the assassination of one of your own goldfish! What a relief to find out it was a goldfish already doomed to the toilet. Good luck with your successful tank, and I hope they continue to live long and healthy lives!

Anonymous said...

in my opinion, goldfish are only put on earth to test parent's ability to explain death to their kids! I am all for flushing that lesson down with the goldfish!

Noriko Nakada said...


Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

This post brings back memories if a beta fish I once owned. It was beautiful, but after a couple of weeks, it floated sideways in the tank and pretty much stayed that way for a long, long time. I couldn't bring myself to flush him, but thought very seriously about "putting a hit" on him. If only I had known you were in this business! That info would have been helpful at the time...

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