Friday, September 03, 2010

The books are piling up. There's dead blooms on my floors that were tracked in from us walking through our neighbors' crape myrtle detritus. Must. Sweep up. Pet hair.

And, in the middle of all this, we have an empty fishbowl.

Rising Tide V was great. I always love helping plan it and attending it not just for the folks I know, but for the folks I anticipate getting to know. It was an incredible high I have slowly been coming down from, and the start of it was possibly the death of my son's first pet, which was obtained through mass quasi-blackmail. Even the rabbi of my synagogue was overheard to be saying how unfair the circumstances were. The odds were clearly stacked against us at the family-friendly gathering the little guy and I attended the week before last.

So I worked an activity booth at said family-friendly gathering. Kids occasionally stopped by to try their hand at creating one of the crafty trinkets I had. Down the way past the space walks was a fishing game table with a big kiddie pool set up in which kids could "fish" for floating stuff and get prizes. Near the end of the gathering, I noticed a couple of kids walking around with goldfish in bags and didn't think much of it until the announcement was made: Would those of you who would like a goldfish please head to the fishing booth at the back of the gym?

Turned out there had been actual fish in that kiddie pool. For effect. With no thought of what would happen to the fish afterwards. Just brilliant.

Stampede of children to their parents, including the little guy to me. A chorus of "Pleasepleaseplease can I have a fish??" coming from loads of children's mouths. And a few of us parents, suckers that we are, said yes. Not that I have no willpower at all - I did say no to the people manning that booth when they tried to foist the kiddie pool off on me.

Conscientious mama that I am, I went to the pet store and got requisite goldfish care supplies - a fishbowl, some gravel, a couple of water plants, fish food, a net that turned out to be too big for the mouth of the bowl, and a care of aquarium fish book for the little guy to peruse. The latter purchase was nearly my undoing. Just after the kiddo got into his pajamas, he came running to me with the book wide open to a specific page and commanded, "Read this, Mom." The chapter he directed me to said something like "Never Put Your Goldfish In A Bowl," strongly recommending that we instead get a tank with at least a 20 gallon water capacity. Sigh.

Negotiations between us ensued, with the compromise being the addition of a filter in the bowl that I purchased the next day. I contemplated postponing it when the kid woke up the morning after we set up the fish in his new home and told me, after I reminded him to feed his new pet, "No, you do it." Hell, no, mister, this is your fish and you will come down from that bed and feed it, I wanted to say, but I said it without the Hell, no in there.

I joked with friends that the fish would last about a week.

I shouldn't have said that.

Despite the filter's pumping away, the water in the bowl was still getting grimy, so on Monday I carefully took the fish out, emptied and washed out the bowl (using no soap, just rinsing), then refilled it and put the fish back in, the whole operation taking no longer than a couple of minutes. Later that day, I brought the little guy home from school, reminded him to feed the fish, and when I checked up on them, I noticed the fish wasn't moving.

The fish funeral was held over the little guy's toilet. I held the fish's lifeless body in my hands and told the kiddo it was customary at a funeral to say a few nice words about the departed. "He was a nice fish...and he was a good swimmer...and *sob* he had a beautiful name," my son said. Nemo was dropped into the toilet water and headed on down the drain. But then the kid pathos began...

I forwarded on to my parents the following things that were said to me after the impromptu service for the deceased:

  • Mom, I know it was an accident. I know you didn't mean to kill him. (I told my son's former teacher about the whole thing. "I rubbed off on you, didn't I?" she said.)
  • We need to get a 20 gallon tank for the next fish. Can we get the next fish tomorrow and name it Nemo?
  • We flushed Nemo down that toilet. I'm never using that toilet ever again.
  • Mom, I don't wanna die! (had to refrain from saying, "Then I'll never change out your water...")
  • Mom, if all drains lead to the ocean, I hope the sewage plant is cleaning the water by hand so Nemo makes it there.

He also panicked suddenly when he realized that we hadn't taken a picture of Nemo in the short while he'd been swimming around on this planet. Ohhhh, dear. "Can we instantly take a picture of the next fish we get, Mom?" "Yes, honey, we can."

I think we still need to give ourselves some time.

In the meantime...anybody got a good-sized fish tank they're not using?

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