Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Goldfish

The topic of introducing a pet was a hotly contested one in the Jozi WAHM household. See, while we love animals, before we had kids, hubby and I were both always way too busy with our careers and not home often enough to even consider introducing a pet. Then, we had small children to feed, change and keep alive and the thought of introducing another living being that needed to be fed and looked after seemed even more preposterous.

By the time Noodle was about three, she began asking for a pet. After much deliberation, it was decided that we would only get a pet once our little ones were old enough to help caring for one (and once the risk of said creature being accidentally killed by a well meaning toddler had passed). Noodle had an imaginary dog who went everywhere with her. Then she began plotting to get a cat (something which is unlikely to happen as my husband is not particularly fond of cats and we all have slight allergy issues). "We will buy a cat and hide him away in a cage when daddy comes. If he meows, we will make meowing noises and daddy will think it is us." Animal cruelty concerns relating to caged cats aside, this was not going to happen.

Then, a few months ago, the decision was prematurely made for us when well meaning friends gifted us with a goldfish, together with a bowl and a month's supply of food. Before we could object, Noodle had already fallen in love and picked out a name. So the goldfish was here to stay.

Now, I had no clue how to care for a goldfish. Just feed it, right? At least that is what I thought. I immediately consulted my dearest friend Google, while Noodle got on the phone with granddad, who breeds marine fish (which, other than both being aquatic creatures, have little in common). I discovered a wealth of information about goldfish. For example, did you know that the three second memory thing is a myth? They have a short memory span but it is a few months (which to me seems to oddly coincide with their typical lifespan in a bowl surrounded by kids). It turns out that goldfish can live for up to ten years if properly cared for and if not overfed by over-eager children. They also need their water changed daily if in a bowl in order to keep oxygen levels high enough and because they produce a significant amount of poop (which gets stuck between the rocks and shells and is a pain to clean).

Initially, the little ones were super eager about their new pet. They fought over who got to feed it that day and stared at it for hours on end. Noodle decorated his bowl with shells that she found on the beach some time back. Squish's brand of love scared us at first as he was determined to hug fishy and let him share his cot at night. He soon learned what is and what is not acceptable behavior, though for safety reasons, I still have fishy up on a very high counter which Squish cannot reach easily without assistance.

Now, while the goldfish is still much loved, the novelty soon wore off. "This fish is boring" said Noodle. "He is cute and I love him but I can't play with him or even take him for a walk." The fights to feed him have turned to "no, its your turn" and we all know who is left cleaning the fish bowl every second day. While fishy is still alive (which is a good sign) and part of the family now, we have decided that this family is not yet ready for a larger, more serious pet.