Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Return of the Fish

When Julia was 2-ish, I got this real yearning for her to have a pet. I had a lot of pets as a child, they're a good way to learn about responsibility and even death.

I went to PetsMart and got this adorable fish tank setup for her. It has a purple cover and purple gravel with a little green plant. She got to go to Nana and Pap Pap's fish pond and get two little goldfish out with a net.

Tim named the big one Frank. I got to name his smaller counterpart, I called him Tiny.

Julia was enamored with the fish. She showed them pictures in her books. She fed them fishy flakes. She helped clean the tank.

Every night after she went to bed, I had fish anxiety and overwhelming worry.Is that one swimming right? Does the water look clean? Is Tiny missing a scale? They're going to die for sure!

Then the worst happened. Tiny couldn't keep himself from getting sucked into the filter. I had to take him out and give him the big ride down the toilet. He wasn't even dead yet, but he was all gross looking. I didn't want Julia to see him. In fact, I hid the whole thing from her. Terrific life lesson about death. But she was hardly three-years-old.

Time passed with just Frank swimming around. One day, out of the blue, Julia announces that the fish is a girl and its name is Goldie Minnow. I thought that was the best name for a goldfish I'd ever heard. Sorry Tim, the fish's name is changed!

Her increased interest in Goldie Minnow made me an even more cautious fish parent. I checked frequently to make sure her air bubbles were just right. I made sure she had just the right amount of fish flakes. This sure taught me about responsibility.

When we sold our townhouse we decided that Goldie Minnow was going to take a summer vacation back in Nana and Pap Pap's pond. Julia was on board. She toted the fish with us on our hour long drive and poured her into the pond. Week after week we visited her fish who was joined by friends named Pot and Money. (A bit of a decline in the naming department.)

Today was the day that Goldie Minnow came back home. My parents brought an empty biscotti container with two fish, but hold on, the supposed Goldie Minnow is gigantic. The friend is a cute fantail, but they can hardly move in the little purple lid fish tank.

It's a much better looking fish than ours was. Goldie Minnow was pale and sick looking. Apparently, the townhouse didn't have enough sunlight to keep a goldfish gold. I didn't expect the same fish back, just roughly the same size. Julia is only four. She totally bought into her fish growing that much over the summer.

Tim is convinced they'll be dead by morning. I agree that they're too big. I've already dipped water out of the tank and put some fresh water in. They had it looking cloudy.

And so I remember what it was like having fish. Every time I go into Julia's room I'll be looking to see if they're swimming sideways. Fantails always look like they're doing something strange to me. Good grief! Keeping the dog alive is much easier.