Given my stellar history as a Goldfish Assassin, my younger son has some residual pet trauma. I’m pretty sure that it’s not normal for a child, for instance, to check his fish nightly and exclaim “They’re still alive!” or, alternatively ask “When are my fish going to die?” But he is very diligent in feeding them nightly and checking on them and talking to them. In other words he pays close attention to the two most recent survivors, Tiny and Original (my older son named them).
So when one of the two identical fish went missing recently before camp, I assured my son that he was probably just hiding and I would find him during the day. True to my promise, I did. Find him, that is. I’m not sure if death counts as hiding, but there he was on the bottom of the tank. Thanks, dude.
The original fish. Note his shape, coloring and red eyes.
On my way out the door with my older son for a camp-free summer adventure day, I semi-desperately texted our babysitter who would be arriving at the house before I did that day: “Remember you love me. Please stop by Petco to get replacement fish for W. He DOES NOT KNOW one died. Pls also remove dead fish from tank. Sorry.” She said OK and I trusted she’d do an excellent job. Relieved, and feeling a bit devious, I went on with my day.
Fast forward to a few hours later when, post Petco, she arrived at my house and informed me via text that the new fish did not look AT ALL like the deceased, one of two nearly identical fish. We decided not to say anything and just see how it went. Maybe he wouldn’t notice, we joked. But it’s worse than that.
Two days of waiting later, my youngest excited yelled from his room “Mom! Come here! I have to show you something!!” I braced myself for having to own up to lying to my child. Turns out, he’s not quick enough to have to be lied to directly.
“Mom!” he continued, fascinated and thrilled at his discovery. “One of my fish looks totally different. I never noticed that! His eyes aren’t red and he doesn’t have any black on him.” Um, yes, child. Yes. THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S A TOTALLY DIFFERENT FISH, I wanted to say. But, I did not.