Monday, June 25, 2007

The Fish Who Wouldn't Die

I was already on the bus, headed to Minnesota, when it hit me: I had forgotten to take Elliana's pet goldfish to her friend's house to stay with her for the week. The fish was swimming happily in the big vase on her dresser, oblivious to the fact that the house was locked up tight and no one would be around to feed it for the entire week.

I really didn't care about the fish at all, but I knew that my daughter would be distraught when she realized her pet was alone, hungry and helpless, destined to die a slow death.

The fish had been given to her on Memorial Day by a kind-hearted teenage boy who had won it at the Corvallis carnival and had noticed Elli admiring it. She had solemnly recieved the plastic bag from him, thanked him and then, very dramatically, walked to me with tears streaming down her face. They were tears of joy.

"Remember when I won a goldfish one time at a carnival, but it died the same day? Now, I have another one to take its place. This is the greatest day of my life."

I didn't remember the previous fish at all, but it was clearly a significant event to her. She carried that bag around like precious cargo the rest of the day, talking and singing to it and generally becoming acquainted with her new best friend.

I warned her at length about the average length of a carnival goldfish's life and prepared her that it might die within a very short time, just like her last one did, but her enthusiasm and optimism would not be curbed.

The high school boy's name was C.C., his initials (I don't know...Charles Curtis...Connor Craig...Clay Cornelius?), and Elli's internal reaction when she first realized he was giving her his fish was, "Yes! Yes!!" So she had very appropriately named her new friend, "Si Si"--a combination of her benefactor and the Spanish 'yes.'

She would be crushed. Her friend's parents would be left to pick up the pieces of my tender-hearted little girl.

I thought about that dumb fish all week at camp and my cabin joked about it quite often. None of us cared about the fish, but we were all concerned for Elli.

When I picked up the kids between weeks of camp and we stopped by the house briefly to get a few things that we needed, Elli ran to her bedroom sadly expecting to find a floater who needed flushing.

But Si Si lived.

She was confident this time and didn't think it necessary to transport him with us up to camp for the second week. She fed him, wished him well and left him to fend for himself another week. Since I didn't care about the fish--did I already mention that fact?--I didn't insist that we bring him along. I didn't inform her that he was probably quite weakened from a whole week of no food and wouldn't survive a second one with only one meal in between.

When we returned home again this weekend, she ran to her bedroom with confidence this time. I prepared for the meltdown of tears, but instead heard her chatting away happily with Si Si, the fish who wouldn't die.

We are the proud owners of the world's most resilient goldfish.

1 comment:

Eagle-eye Di said...

Some of those prize gold fish from carnivals last for a very long time.Annette can attest to this one.Kids enjoy seeing these fish swim around,sing your heart out for your new found friend.