#3 celebrated her birthday recently. She received from her godfather three goldfish to put into her empty fishbowl. Do not fear, we filled the bowl before submerging the poor fish. For several days the bouncing five-year-old took much pleasure in observing and trying to over-feed the little goldfish.
At last the inevitable happened, “Daddy, the baby fishy died!”
I reassured her, in a groggy, sleepy way, “I’m sure it’s just sleeping. Now get yourself back to bed before you wakeup the real baby.”
In the morning before I left the house in the dawn light, I checked on the fish. Sure enough, dead as old Marley. I thought to myself, I would take care of it and save Wife the trouble. I scoop the corpse out with the fishnet and tossed it outside for the cats to eat. At least something good would come out of it.
When I came back home from work, after overcoming the entanglement my children made around my legs, #3 waited to catch my full and undivided attention. Looking up with her big blue eyes she inquired, “Daddy, the baby fish is gone, where’d it go?”
Without thinking I blurted out, “I tossed it out side for the cat to eat.”
The five year-old stared up at me with a blank expression for three heart-beats. In that time I realized just how ruthless that sounded. I waited for the emotional crash… but unexpectedly she bobbed her head and bounced away with a simple, “K.”
I turned to Wife, who still had a hand over her mouth. She lost no time in scolding me, “That was harsh, don’t you think?”
“Well… she seemed to handle it fine. And besides, she should have a firm grasp on what life really is.” And before Wife could catch me I jumped into the solitude of the shower.
Now the next afternoon I found myself in an amusing situation. Again #3 rushed up to me and waited for her siblings to say hello before she could grasp my attention. She then said, “Daddy, anodder fish is dead! Are you going to feed it to the cats?”
“I guess so.” And with that we all paraded into the house and saw that indeed another fish had died. So again I scooped it out and this time was followed outside. When I dropped the fish to the cat, the cat was chased away by the dog, who in turn was chased away by #3, who then went running around the house looking for the cat so that it could eat the fish. I’m really not sure who got the fish in the end; but I did check #3’s pockets to make sure she was not attempting to save the fish to feed the cat at breakfast.