By Diane Ako
We would have a memorial service for Olivia's three pet goldfish, but we can't find them. They died sometime in the last month, and there is nothing in the tank that even resembles fish carcass.
There might be corpses on the floor around the tank, but her room is a mess and a cursory look yielded nothing so far. One day, I'll be startled by a desiccated fish or two among the piles of crud on the floor.
These fish lasted three whole months. I'm surprised. The last time she had fish, she overfed them, and they polluted to death. This time, she ignored them, and they starved or committed piscine suicide.
I know trusting a seven-year-old with the care of another life is a faulty proposition, but you know that whole thing about teaching responsibility, yadda yadda. To her credit, she was very responsible for weeks.
It's not totally her fault, though. Her grandparents came for their annual snowbird visit from Denmark, and for six weeks, she was kicked out of her room. Since I wasn't entering her room either, I forgot to remind her to feed the fish.
After five weeks, it occurred to me that nobody's been feeding the fish. I know one might assume the residents of the room would oversee the task, but one would assume wrong. They didn't offer and we forgot to ask, so the fish suffered.
I went to check and found one lonely guppy, kind of pale, still hanging in there. Those guppies! Darwinism at its finest!
"Are you done with having fish now? Can I put this guppy in the outside pond?" I asked Olivia. She said yes.
These kid phases are so brief. The poor goldfish who sacrificed their lives so Olivia could satiate her "pet fish" phase.
The next day, I made sure to scoop him out and release him into our yard fishpond. It's a much, much nicer environment for him, with dozens of brethren, partial sun, and lots of hapless bugs to eat. "You deserve this, Buddy," I told the guppy as he swam out of the net.
Of course, my kid's always on a mission to get another pet, and lately the request has been for a puppy or kitten (despite the fact that we have a dog and cat.) If the former fish are any indicator: NO.