Tag Archives: parenting

One Fish, Two Fish. Dead Fish, Flush Fish.

Dun. Dun. Dun. Another One Bites the Dust.

Sadly, this will be the last post in the Trilogy of the Fish. It started here when we were given two fish (Siggi and Devo) over the weekend. Next, things escalated quickly when Siggi really did go “swimming with the fishes.” Then, yesterday I got the following texts from my wife.

Devo's dead.

Devo’s dead.

In the matter of just a few days, our kids had their first pets, their first experience with death and their first blasé response when confronted with death. Luckily (I think), we still have our loud, fat, missing-toothed bag of fur named Gilligan. He’s a 12ish-year-old cat and a cancer survivor. Yeah, he had a lumpectomy a few years ago. I’m pretty certain that Gilligan is immortal, so my kids can love on him for decades to come.

I got Gilligan when I was in college. He has lived in eight different residences, with two different college roommates, two different dogs, a cat, a wife and now two kids. During the day, the kids constantly want to yell at him, hug him, attempt to cut him with a toy knife (from a kitchen set), sit on him, cuddle with him, ski behind him while holding his tail and chase him. His tolerance for putting up with crap is low. Gilligan goes from I-love-you-I-love-you-pet-me-pet-me to I’m-gonna-punch-you-in-the-face in about six seconds flat.

Gilligan laying on a kid's puzzle box top

Gilligan laying on a kid’s puzzle box top

Gilligan has been a great pet. He’s put up with a lot. He’s brought a lot of laughs. He gave me companionship during some of the biggest moments of my life. He was with me in my first apartment by myself after college. He was with me when I moved into my first house. Gilligan was around when I got married (not in person) and when our kids were born (again, not in person).

Gilligan has helped protect our home, as evidenced here:

There (might) be a day when Gilligan gets bored enough with this world and decides to move on. When he does, our son will certainly wonder where Gilligan has gone. Our kids weren’t around the fish enough to really care about them, but they have been around the fur bag for their entire lives, and over a third of my life.

Once that day comes, it will surely be sad, but I see a silver lining. It gives me a teaching moment to describe a real heaven where we will go one day. I can describe the scene that John writes about in Revelation, minus all the wrath, destruction and pre-tribulational theology. Rylan read the chapter in his kid’s Bible tonight about Revelation. He loves the part that says, “Jesus will return again soon.”

I used to have visions where I was standing at the end of a diving board. Below me was a huge black chasm. The visions made me fearful and filled with anxiety over life, afterlife and my purpose. But, something happened. Once I started growing in my faith, exploring the truth and seeking answers, the visions drifted away. I know where my future home will be. I have complete comfort and peace in knowing where I will be once my body fails me.

In order to prepare for that day, I suppose I should put some thought in what I want done with my body so we can document the instructions. Casket? Cremation? Or flush down the toilet like Devo and Siggi?

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Siggi’s dead.

Well, that didn’t take long.  If you read the post from yesterday, you might remember that we received two goldfish as a party favor at a kid’s birthday party.  Our son named one Devo and we named the other one Siggi.

Siggi’s dead.


Siggi is (was) the floater on the left.

Elizabeth noticed that one of the fish had “taken a break” from swimming.  To eliminate the thought that he was napping, I poked him with my finger.

Uh oh.

Now what?  Well, we did what any parent of a nearly-three-year-old might do.  We started the cover up.  First, we had to dispose of the body.

“How are we going to get it out?  We don’t have one of those little nets,” asked Elizabeth.

“I think I’m just going to pick him up,” I said.  And I did.  I laid him on a paper towel and did a brief autopsy.  Yep, he wasn’t moving.  Elizabeth distracted Rylan as I jetted to the bathroom.  Upon entering the bathroom, it occurred to me that I actually had to use the bathroom.

Do I pee first?

Do I pee on the fish?

There was no need to waste two full tanks of water on separate flushes.  So I rationalized that I should be humane and dump the fish in a bowl of pee rather than pee on the dead fish.  It seemed like the dignified thing to do.  As I dropped the fish carcass into the bowl, it hit at such an angle that it appeared to glide through the water.  For a brief moment, I actually thought Siggi was alive and I would have to stick my hand in the pee-water and pull out our Lazarus fish.

“OK, the fish is gone,” I announced quietly back in the living room.  “Do we tell him?”

We considered our options.  We could go get another fish and complete the cover up.  Two fish entered, two fish would remain.  Or, we could try to have “the death talk” with our son and wonder if he would understand.  Or…

Or, we could hope he doesn’t notice one is missing.

“I kinda feel like we’re lying to our son,” I said.  “No,” Elizabeth added, “as long as the other one is still there, I think we’re OK.”  As we were spiraling towards denial, our son said, “I want to feed the fishies.”

Fishies.  Plural.  Great.

“Sure, buddy,” I replied.  “You can feed the fish.”


I picked him up and held him next to the food and the bowl.  He grabbed a pinch of the $4.25 goldfish food from Walgreen’s and dropped it in the fishbowl.  “Yay, he’s eating it!”

Whew!  It appears as if we dodged a bullet today, but we still need to formulate a plan for when Devo kicks the bucket…er…bowl.

Until then, long live Devo.

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Sometimes life gives you fish.

Sometimes life gives you things you don’t particularly want. Today, life gave us two fish.

We had a fun afternoon at a local splash park celebrating a friend’s daughter’s birthday. The birthday party was Elmo themed and featured a lot of Elmo’s favorite things. So, as a party favor, we got a bowl with two goldfish. Real fish. Living. In a bowl. With water.

This presented a variety of problems. The first (and most obvious) problem – the fish didn’t have names. Rylan quickly named one of them Devo. We named the other one Siggi after a friend of ours who is also small and orange.

The second problem was that we had to transport the fish all the way home without spilling the water or the fish. This dovetailed nicely with the third problem. We weren’t going straight home. We were going to “outside church,” as our son calls it. Our church has a Saturday evening service under a tent in the middle of 200 acres of land that will one day be built upon. We weren’t going home for several hours.

Do we take the fish to the service with us? Do we crack the windows in the car? Will these things boil?

On the way to church, in the midst of me showing people next to us at stoplights that I had a bowl of fish, we realized our fourth problem. We had to feed these things. Or euthanize them. OK, we decided on feeding them. We stopped on the way home and Elizabeth bought some fish food. I learned something today. Walgreen’s sells fish food. And, it costs $4.25. That’s like…a dozen goldfish. We could just not feed them and keep replacing them…OK, we decided again to feed them. Don’t call PETA.

Now, here’s the fifth problem. The fish WILL die. At some point, we are going to have to tell our not-quite-three-year-old son that his fishies died or moved out or went to the store. I’m not ready for that yet.

On the way home tonight, I was thinking about unexpected responsibilities. I thought about when the Samaritan woman ran in to Jesus at the drinking well in John 4. She had no idea he would be there. In fact, she wasn’t expecting anyone to be there. When Jesus approached her, he asked her to get him a drink. She tried to politely point out that Jews and Samaritans didn’t typically hang out. Jesus began to tell this woman about her own life. Jesus knew she had five husbands and was living unfaithfully. At this point, the woman thought he was just a prophet, but he was so much more.

(v. 25) The woman said “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us. Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

This lady was simply out to get some water. She was thirsty. Maybe she was going to make dinner and needed water for the pot. She never would have guessed that she was about to encounter the Son of God. She never would have thought that she was going to have her life changed that night. It was supposed to be another ordinary walk to the well, just like the last one, or ten or fifty.

The woman had a choice to make. She could have gone about her business and not have spoken to the Jew that she normally would have avoided. She could have left the well and ignored the conversation. But instead, she was so overwhelmed and convicted about what just happened that she immediately went back to town to tell her friends. She was so overcome that she actually left the water jar behind – the whole reason she was there to begin with.

I’m 164% sure that when I woke up this morning I did not think I’d be coming home with more pets. Our fat, loud cat, Gilligan (who is immortal), is enough. But, now that we have Devo & Siggi, we can embrace the teaching moments. As soon as we got home, we put the fish on the table and we showed Rylan how to feed the fish. In the morning, pending these things are still alive, we will do the same thing again. He will start learning how to care for others. One day (maybe Monday), these fish will die and Rylan will learn a lesson about death. I’m not looking forward to Rylan being sad, but I am looking forward to explaining more to him about God’s love for us.

Until then, meet Devo & Siggi.

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