Thursday, May 5, 2011

Golden, Stripe, and Spot

For a few weeks, Allyson was begging for a goldfish. I guess she'd finally worn Bill down by this past weekend because they came home from Walmart with a little fishbowl and some colorful pebbles. They filled the bowl together and let it sit for a few days to get ready for some fish.

Every day, Allyson's first waking thought was whether we could get a goldfish. She asked us morning, noon, and night. "Not yet," Bill kept saying. "Ask your daddy," was my standard reply.

On Tuesday night, Bill told her that Wednesday was the day. So of course she was following him around begging to go to the pet store the moment he walked in the door last night. "Honey, we're going to church tonight," I said apologetically. "I think it will have to wait until tomorrow."

"Can't we go after church?" she asked. Bill said we'd see.

And that's how we ended up at PetSmart last night at 8:38 PM. That gave us 22 minutes to select our fish and check out.

A very personable young woman, who bore a mild resemblance to Natalie Portman, assisted us. There were four tanks of goldfish in varying sizes, ranging in price from $.13 to $23.99.

"You can pick whatever kind you want," Bill said.

Allyson pointed to the big, round one, the 24 dollar one.

"Except that one," I said. "It's way too... big."

"Yes, your bowl is little," Bill said. "You need to pick a little fish. If you get the smallest ones, maybe you can get two."

"Can I get three?" she asked.

We looked at Natalie Portman.

"I think three would do quite nicely," she said. "They're community fish, so they like having company."

Allyson peered at the swirling mass of orange goldfish, probably 500 or so. "I want that one," she said. "And that one with the stripes."

"Honey, it's probably hard to catch a specific one," Bill warned.

Natalie swished the net around. "Got it!" she said. "And this one?"

Allyson nodded vigorously.

In no time we had three one-inch fish. I was surprised to see how different they were. Allyson named the solid one Golden, the striped one Stripe, and the spotted one Spot. "Spot is my very, very favorite," she said.

While Natalie was transferring the fish from their bucket into their traveling bag, Golden tumbled onto the table and started flopping. Natalie gently and meticulously grabbed him, dropping him safely into the bag. I thought she looked a bit freaked out about touching a fish, but maybe I was just projecting.

"Oh my!" I couldn't help exclaiming.

"I'm so sorry!" she said.

"It'll be fine," Bill assured her.

Next, the bag sprang a leak. Natalie and a coworker quickly filled another bag and netted the three fish out of their draining bag.

"These fish seem rather unlucky," I fretted.

"Oh, they'll be fine," Bill repeated.

Next, we picked out some fish food. "Now these fish get only a tiny bit of fish food every day," Bill said firmly. "Just ask Auntie Lisa what happens if you feed them too much."

"What do you mean?" Allyson asked.

"Oh, she killed my first goldfish when she was about your age," he said.

While they checked out--$2.40!--Ethan showed me what he hopes will be his next pet: a little rat that I had to admit was a little bit cute. Um, nah. 

On the way home, I got to hold the bag. The fish nudged my hand and then my belly, and I cringed. "They're touching me," I complained.

Allyson convinced us to let her hold them. "They're tickling my belly!" she shrieked.

Their Lives Were In Her Hands

Back at home, Bill poured some of the water from the fishbowl into a plastic leftover container and transferred the fish into that bowl. After just a few minutes, he poured them into the fish bowl.
That's Spot in the Front (Allyson's Favorite)

Death By Blueberry Muffins--Not a Bad Way to Go
"Let's call Auntie Lisa," he said. "And Allyson, you have have to say, 'What happens when you feed a blueberry muffin to a goldfish?'"


"Just ask her," he said, already dialing.

"I'll be embarrassed," Allyson said, covering her mouth.

"Do it!" he said, handing her the phone.  "It's a joke. She'll laugh."

She took the phone reluctantly. "Um, hi Katie. Can I talk to your mommy?... Auntie Lisa, Daddy says, 'What happens if you feed a fish blueberry muffins?'"

I couldn't hear Lisa laughing over Bill's snickering. But Allyson laughed, so I think she was amused.

After we each said hello, everyone sat around and watched the goldfish eat their pinch of fish food.

Who Knew Goldfish Could Be So Entertaining?

At bedtime, Allyson and I prayed that Golden, Stripe, and Spot would not be too stressed out by their move and that they would be healthy and grow big--but not too big, Allyson reminded me. (Bill says that if the fish outgrow their bowl, they'll go over to his friend Troy's house to live in his pond.)

I reminded Allyson of how God had taken care of the little bird that fell out of its nest behind our pool last week. We'd been sure it would die, but its mother was always hovering nearby (and Lola was locked on the other side of the fence). The mother must have been feeding it. On the fourth day, it was gone.
It Looked Much Smaller in Person

As of this evening, all three fish seem as happy as goldfish can be. But Allyson is already planning her next fish purchase. "When they die, I want a betta fish," she said.

"You just got these goldfish," Bill said, frowning.

"Yes, but you said goldfish don't live very long. When they die, I want a betta."

I'm hoping the goldfish live a nice long while. As long as Bill takes care of changing their water.

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