Ya ever hear the one about the kid who wanted to play a carnival game to win a goldfish?
I have, too. And I've raised those goldfish. So guess what? I've never allowed my kids to play carnival games that involve goldfish prizes EVER AGAIN!
Cut to my son having a sleepover with his aunt and uncle. Two nice people who wanted to take him to a country fair. Now, it seems, it's my problem to run around and scare up a fish bowl. Because my brother let Ryan play, and WIN, a carny game that had a goldfish as the prize!
It's not like my brother doesn't know what's involved in taking care of pets. He and his wife have two very happy, very healthy Springer Spaniels. But my brother and his wife are indulgent with their nieces and nephews. They don't want to slowly and scarily say, "No. God. Damned. WAY!" to any of them. Because that would be viewed as being mean. Or fun-sucking. Traits that have long been ascribed to me by my own kids.
You might say, "Cath, why don't you just use the old goldfish bowl you must have lying around your house?" Good question. Because I did, indeed, have to have a goldfish bowl. In the garage. Along with a filtered fish aquarium, TWO hamster cages, a tadpole/frog habitat and a hermit crab crabitat. But somewhere along the way, I came to my senses and said, "These creatures barely get a passing grade as 'pets.'" So a few years after all those "pets" passed on, I came to my senses and sold all those "pet homes" at a garage sale.
In the subsequent years, Ryan would beg to play carny games involving fish prizes.
Ry: "I'LL take care of it!"
Me: "Really? You'll scoop the fish out of it's bowl, dump the dirty water out of the bowl, refill it with clean water, add special aquatic drops, and then feed it... on a regular basis?"
Ry: "Wait, what?! ...I just want to win a fish!!"
Let me just say, when I owned the first two goldfish, I did pretty well with them. In fact, they lived for two years in a fishbowl on the kitchen counter. When they died, it was very sad. They got the full funeral with a burial in the back yard. Twenty minutes later, the small voice of a wee little Ryan asked, "Can we go to the pet store and get new fish?"
Me, being idiotic, said okay. Which started a hellish three-week cycle in which no fewer than 10 fish keeled over and died (sometimes within HOURS). After the first two or six kicked, the pet store told me I needed a real aquarium with a pump filter. I got the "SUCKER" sticker for free with that purchase. The two goldfish I bought with that purchase seized up after a day or so, so the pet store said I needed to get better fish. About 45 minutes after bringing them home, one of 'em started listing. GOOD GOD, THE HORROR!
The kids were turning to me like, "Do something, Mommy!"
I was like, "What in Sam HELL?!?!"
Against all odds, I had kept two carnival goldfish alive in an unfiltered bowl for two years!! Suddenly, I was going through more fish than a sushi chef. Mass burials were taking place daily. After nearly three weeks of this, my kids were ready to charge me with genocide. I put the collective mess of aquariums, fishbowls, filters, gravel and aqua decor in a sad corner of the garage.
So, yes, for years now I've avoided the fragile creatures. Hell, I got a cat before taking on the uncertainty of another fish. Clean water and fresh food, and felines are good to go. Fish? Clean water and they die. Dirty water and they die. Too much food? Dead. They get scared between the pet store and your house? It's over.
I was hoping my brother's dogs would sniff out the fish before Ryan brought it home. Instead, my son proudly walked in with not one, but TWO goldfish. My sister-in-law thought the one would be lonely. They generously bought Ryan a net, gravel, fish food -- they even let him NAME them!
So, here's hoping I wake up to fish that aren't listing or doing the dead fish float. And that my cat hasn't procured them as a midnight snack....