When my daughter arrived we bought my son a present. A gold fish. Not the crunchy, edible kind. The swimming, scaly, fishy kind.
I don’t know what we were thinking. The kid was wasn’t even two years old. I don’t think he really cared about the fish after the first 24 hours. But as a parent that felt terrible for robbing him of only child status, it assuaged my guilt at the time.
Let me give you a piece of advice, however. Never, ever, ever give your child a consolation prize for a new sibling that requires any kind of maintenance. Ever.
Mr. Fish, my son’s name choice, weathered deplorable conditions. Murky, foul water that was not cleaned for weeks. Over feeding from eager toddler fingers. It is impossible, when trying to keep a newborn human being alive to give any kind of pet a fighting chance.
He always seemed perky and chipper and never complained in spite of everything, so if anyone associated with PETA is reading this, it was all OK, I assure you!
We picked a fish because it would be low maintenance. What we did not realize at the time was, any maintenance was too much. I shudder to think what would have happened with a dog or hamster. We could have taken the easy way out. We could have flushed him. But we didn’t. We were in it for the long haul.
After the first year, things did get better for Mr. Fish. Weekly bowl cleanings. Feedings were more consistent. New plastic plants in his bowl. He was a good fish, after all.
Amazingly, the poor thing lasted for over a year and a half. When he finally kicked the bucket, there was much relief. I mean grieving. There was grieving.
And now? Now we have a tarantula. Named Harry….