Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paul the Fish

While Mike was in Iraq, I decided that it would be fun to get a betta (also known as a Siamese Fighting Fish).  They're supposed to be low maintenance, so I figured one would be a good "first pet" for the girls.  So we bought a blue one at Walmart, and after I told the girls about the red betta I had in high school (named Paul, after some local theatre guy) they decided Paul was a good name for our new fish.  They loved him.  The water was clear, and he was feisty and entertaining.  It doesn't take much to entertain 4 and 2-year-olds.  

We discovered right away that our fish was not "normal".  He would bend his tail and "sit" on the rocks in the bottom of the bowl, or go up to the top of the water and lay in the branches of his fake plants.  Once, when he was laying in one of his plants, his back was up out of the water, and he was so still that I thought he was dead.  I touched his back, which usually made him swim away very quickly, but this time he didn't move.  I stroked my finger down his back 6-7 times, every time thinking "Oh, no, what am I going to tell the girls?"  And then suddenly, with a little wiggle, he swam off.  NOT a normal fish.  Fish aren't supposed to let people pet them.

After about two weeks, the novelty wore off.  He sat in his bowl on the counter, the water got scummy, and guess who had clean his bowl and change the water once a week, and remember to feed him every night.  Yeah, NOT the girls.

So we got a neat little tank with a filter and a light, and discovered that while we could go for weeks now without cleaning the tank or changing the water, when it WAS time to change the water, it was a chore and a half.  Paul went back to his bowl, and the tank went to the garage.

Not even half a year into our ownership of Paul the Fish, and I was getting pretty tired of fish duty.

So, thinking thoughts of short-lived goldfish and flushing toilets, I went online to research exactly how long I could expect this *stupid* fish to live.  Twenty years.  Twenty YEARS!!!  I went back to thinking about the marvels of flushing toilets, but realized immediately that the girls would be heartbroken if I resorted to such drastic measures.

When we went out of town, Mark and Mary kept Paul for us...multiple times.  I think he got better care at their house, regardless of how often I hinted to Mark about flushing toilets.  I thought of all sorts of creative ways Paul could disappear with Mark's help, but neither one of us could ever follow through on any of them.  Have I mentioned how the girls would have been heartbroken?  (Sigh.)

And then, Isaak started saying, "Pauh!", pointing at Paul swimming around in his bowl, and laughing and laughing at that *stupid* fish.  Great.  Now all the kids are attached to him.  Reluctantly, I kept cleaning the bowl, changing the water, and remembering to feed him every night.

When I went down to the kitchen this afternoon to start dinner, I realized that Paul was still in the same spot he was in last night when I went to bed.  Not a good sign.  So, I checked, and yes, Paul was dead.  I called the girls down and showed them, and yes, there was a tear or two, but no one was heartbroken.  After Isaak was in bed (and not around to get ideas put in his head), the girls and I took the bowl into the bathroom, and without ceremony (and with even a few giggles) Paul was flushed down the toilet.


*Stupid* fish.

I think I might actually miss him...but only a little.  :)

P.S. (*Stupid* is a bad word at our house...don't tell the girls I used it!)