3 birthday goldfish

#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.

We heard a SNAKE!

While the children were playing outside, I enjoyed some quiet work while Wife left for a church engagement. I had the house to myself to blog and write without interruption; it was too good to last.

In little time all five children at play came rushing into the front room like a herd of buffalo. In the lead was trusty #1 completely out of breath. The mob erupted into a torrent of explanations. After many minutes of incoherent noise, #1 was able to shout louder than the rest, “We heard a snake!”

“OK,” said I.“Show me where.”

They led the way with #1 at the lead. “It’s over here, under the tin,” she shouted over her shoulder.

I was under no delusion; there are beetles in the brush that make a sound similar to a rattlesnake. They heard the rattle only once, therefore I was quite confidant to walk out in my Saturday morning slippers. Soon I stood before the old metal shed that had been burned down into a heap many years ago. The children pointed to the scrap tin and verified that they heard the rattle from underneath.

“OK guys,” I said, “calm down. It was probably just a bug.” I then proceeded to prove my point by boldly marching into the rusted metal. “Looks like the snake left.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “Nothing here.” Stomp, stomp, stomp. “I think we’re good.” Stomp, stomp, stomp; rattle, rattle, rattle.

All eyes turn with one mind to the spot where the sound came from. Under a sheet of tin directly in front of me the muffled sound of a rattlesnake’s rattle sounded clear; and there I was, standing almost on top of it armed only with my slippers.

“OK everyone, back to the house.” A quick retreat ensued in which #5 was nearly left to fend for himself. Lucky for him I was taking the rear and simply scooped him up under one arm with him screaming, “NOOOOOO!” the whole way.

Once the children were out of potential harm, I pulled on my boots and armed myself with a shovel, the rattlesnake’s nemesis. I went back to the old shed with all the confidence of Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral. And like the famous gun fight, the villains were dead and I stood triumphant. Returning with a headless snake, I decided it was time for the children’s science lesson.

Practical science I call it. I skinned and gutted the still slithering reptile while twelve little eyes looked on with intense interest. We examined the skin, and I explained how I was going to preserve it. We examined the rattles, and the top three argued over who would get them. We examined the intestines, and saw that the rattler’s last meal was a kangaroo rat. Then to top off the children’s experience, I fried up the rattlesnake and we ate it for lunch.

I do believe that I make a very good teacher.