Archive for March, 2013

Air torture

March 29th, 2013

Olivia and her friend Kira have developed a rude habit of fishing. In the neighborhood. From my dad's water garden.

I didn't realize this until recently. She had asked me months ago if they could catch guppies from our own water garden to play with and look at, and I said no, because it's mean to the fish. I didn't realize they would decide it was OK to do this to my dad's fish.

So many times in parenting, little truths are revealed in indirect ways. This is how this one came about:

"Mommy, can we get a puffer fish?" she has been asking for two weeks. I've been saying no, with the standard Just Because follow up to the standard Why? question.

Finally, I decided to give her a longer explanation to put an end to this tediousness. I told her I didn't want to buy a large tank with a filter for a puffer fish, nor did I want to be obligated to buying it a high-protein diet or any of the other fussy, high-maintenance routines that go with this not-for-beginner fish. I think it's cute, but too much work.

Then, I asked, "Why do you want a puffer fish?" It's that a weird request from a little kid? Did she learn about it in school?

"'Cause they're funny looking. They look like popcorn," she said.

"Where have you seen them?" I continued.

"At Kung Kung's house," she said. "We fish for them."

She said she decided to go up there when I denied her request to fish from our water garden. "It's mean to the fish! It gets them upset to be chased after then pulled out of the water!" I explained.

Well, I know my dad's fish collection, partly because I have to feed them when he goes away. OCD that he is, he is now up to about 12 water gardens (varying pots and tubs), six tanks, 24 vases of Bettas, and six assorted bowls of livebearers. He has amassed this in only seven years since moving back to Hawaii from New Jersey. There is no puffer in this equation.

Suspicious, I continued questioning. "What do they look like?"

"Popcorn." Duh, Mom. Didn't she say that?

OK, what color? "Orange and white."

The lights go off in my head. What is orange and white and puffy and easily accessible to two kolohe kids? The freshwater fancy goldfish (ryukins, orandas) in the front yard water garden. These fish cost $5 to $30 a piece!

*freak out*

Keeping calm, I verify these are the ones in the front yard, and ask, "How are you 'fishing' for these fish?"

"With our hands!" she demonstrated, and made a cup with two hands.

"What do you do with them?" I queried.

"Nothing. We look at it and throw them back," she answered. So there's a fish gasping for air for ten seconds or so while they look at it in their small hands. Or, as Olivia guesstimated, One minute or two.

"Don't do that anymore. It upsets the fish," I ordered.

Claus was listening to this conversation with amusement and added under his breath to me, "Air torture."

Took me a beat to catch his joke - as an antonym to the well-known water torture.

Indeed, air torture. Part-Chinese air torture.

Hideous "t"

March 27th, 2013

Kids say such funny things. I was doing homework with Olivia. It was a daily journal entry. She only has to write three sentences about her day.

She was complaining, not wanting to do it. I was trying to encourage. "I love writing!" I enthused.

"Then you write this," she suggested. Uh, no. Good try.

You forget that writing three little sentences takes ten minutes when a person is five. I have to sit there and remind her to "finger space" between every word, capitalize this or lower case that, the bump on the d goes left, write the letters nicely, period goes there, and most importantly, how to spell just about everything.

This journal had a lot of  words with "t" in it, for some reason. She crosses the t at the top - nearly capitalizing what is supposed to be a lower case letter. I kept reminding her, Lower case t. Small t. Erase that. Make it pretty. Do it nicely.

Frustrated, she finally exclaimed, "It looks hideous that way!" Girls. Such drama.

"I can think of a lot more hideous things than a small t," I responded.

"I want you to call it Hideous t!" she requested emphatically.

So I did. There on out, it became Hideous t. It went thusly: "Finger space. What word is next? Test. OK. Hideous t - e - s - hideous t. Write it nicely. Erase that. Do it again. Finger space. Next word?" And so on and so forth.

Claus was not really paying attention but nearby. At some point after maybe ten hideous t's, he finally looked up and asked what the heck we were spelling.

Hey, as long as she writes it correctly, it can be hideous t, horrific t, horrid t, or whatever else gets her to remember!

Water World update

March 25th, 2013

My cousin Val just gave me two new varieties of guppies. We must be related because we seem to go through similar phases at similar times, and of course, because we share our things, we end up increasing our collection of whatever it is we're into. That is why we have menageries for homes.

Lately, we've both gotten into fancy guppies. That was coincidence. Just so happened that my dad was thinning out his stock of red guppies and let me have a bunch. Just so happened she had friends who gave her blue, Russian, and cobra guppies, and then she bought a breeding pair of goldens. She has a rainbow of fish at her house.

Guppy baby bowls

Guppy baby bowls

I went over to see this newly converted bathroom that's now dedicated to fish. We swapped our extra fish. I now have a new bucket of blues outside, and two bowls of golden and cobra babies in the kitchen window. My reds are in a corner of the house. My new purple Betta, named Auberge, is on the kitchen counter. My fish-obsessed dad is proud.





Out husbands think we're crazy. I tell Claus I'm just being a good Chinese. It was my people, after all, who began raising fish as pets in the 10th century. That doesn't work for Val because her husband is Chinese, too. I'm suggesting she remind him she could be out buying designer handbags!

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March 22nd, 2013

Olivia has long called nostrils "narsals." We think it's super cute. She is sometimes sensitive about being laughed at.

"Stop laughing!" she insisted one day after the latest narsal reference. "I don't call it that anymore."

Oh? Pause from the parents.

"I call it NOSE HOLES," said she. Not quite common usage, but good work-around!

Don't play with necklaces

March 20th, 2013

The three of us were in a costume jewelry store in Charleston where Olivia, like a bird, was enamored of all the shiny stuff. As she started to run her tiny hand through all the hanging beads, Claus admonished, "See that sign? It says 'Don't play with jewelry.'"


He was exaggerating the scope of the signage to hopefully keep her from touching everything. One can hope.

Without missing a beat, she corrected, "Necklaces. It says 'Don't play with necklaces.'" Then ran off to touch everything else that wasn't a necklace, so: earrings, rings, bracelets, brooches, charms, feather boas, hats, and tiaras. The store really should consider revising the sign to "jewelry."

Claus looked at me with an amused but defeated look. Yes, we've come to that point where there's one less way to trick her.

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