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Monday, January 11, 2016
A Christmas wish fulfilled
There’s something very stressful about goldfish. Eric had the bright idea this Christmas of gifting Johanna a fish tank. She had been begging for a puppy this year, but recently gave up on that front and began lobbying for goldfish.
I can only assume this is because of the repeated number of times she has been told that our family does better with pets that ignore us, i.e. cats. Look, I don’t even have houseplants. There are reasons for this. Goldfish technically do ignore you, so that’s a plus, but they are also notoriously fond of keeling over quickly, which is a strike in the “downside” column.
So much relaxation!
Another downside: Having to pick up the pieces of a heart broken over a fish.
But oh, the look on her face Christmas morning when she unwrapped the tank, the joy of arranging the decorations just so — should this plant go by the barrel or the sign? — and the happiness of finally bringing Gumball and Darwin home.
It was enough to make me think that maybe this was a good idea after all.
Erring on the side of caution and practicality, we’ve explained to the child that goldfish do not have long lives, and at 28-cents each, are exceedingly replaceable.
“You might go through a lot of fish,” I warned.
“That’s okay!” she chirped.
I was hopeful that the lesson had sunk in when she made a list of 30 potential names — enough for a year’s worth of fish, I’m assuming — until it occurred to me that she was just excited and this was her way of coping with the wait to go to the store.
“You might want to keep a hold of that list,” Eric said.
"I will!" she beamed. "I wrote it in my journal!"
"That's Darwin," Johanna says confidently. Then pauses. "Or THAT is Darwin."
Still, between the idea and the reality falls the shadow. (T.S. Eliot knew what he was talking about.)
“Abby said not to get too attached,” Johanna told me after a conversation with her sister on the way home from the store, “but I think it’s too late.”
I’m happy to report that Gumball and Darwin have managed to survive an entire two weeks Johanna’s watchful eye. She finds them entertaining and relaxing, and likes to give minute-by-minute updates: Darwin is a bit of an explorer, while Gumball likes to hide behind the plants. They both like the barrel feature.
But while she thinks her new pets are enchanting, the rest of us find them nerve-wracking. The Walker family is on high-alert, with our collective fingers’ crossed that Gumball and Darwin manage to live … well, a little longer.