Fishing for Trouble

I’m not sure when the “gift with purchase” at birthday parties became a standard operating procedure. I remember putting together goody bags at Long’s Drugs before my parties as a kid, so it goes back at least forever.

Mostly the gifts last only slightly longer than the party before they end up in pieces, in the landfill, or at the bottom of the toybox with dead flies and found rocks.

This summer was the summer of birthday parties, and many tiny plastic items found their way into (and out of) my kiddos’ hearts and hands on the regular. Tiny things, however loved, just have a way of disappearing. Which is why I’m still laughing about the birthday prize a friend’s child brought home from yet another Summer birthday.


His name is Rainier. The fish, I mean, not the kid. After a two hour, epic jump party at one of the many, bone breaking jump houses, each birthday party guest was sent home with a live fish in a plastic bag. Apparently they stole the idea from scores of church carnivals.

Smaller than your thumb, bright as a new penny, and instantly loved. What a wonderful treat. If you hate all of your child’s friends’ parents.

Here is a tiny living creature! It will need food, of course, and a new home. It will need colorful rocks and a tiny castle or other decorative element. It will need water, but not straight from the tap because chlorinated water is fish poison – so you’ll have to treat the water or let it sit out for a day or so to off-gas. You will have to change the water every week because goldfish are filthy poop-monsters and your child will probably overfeed it…possibly to death. You have cats? You might just want to invest in an aquarium with a filter and a strong lid.

Oh, and you could always buy it friends. Fish like friends. Also, the more fish you have, the harder it is to tell which one of them dropped dead mysteriously. It’s possible Rainier could live forever. Of course, if Rainier does live forever he might just grow to be the size of your cat. Did you know that a well cared for goldfish can live 20 years? Your kid could take him to college!

Of course, chances are the fish will be dead within the month and you’ll be holding a little fish funeral in the backyard and answering a whole lot of philosophical questions you’re neither prepared nor trained to answer. I’m sure you could put the “like-new” aquarium on Craigslist or something. Enjoy the touching “burial at sea” moment…flush.

Best. Gift. Ever.

Betta fishing with Jo

9 thoughts on “Fishing for Trouble

  1. I like a good fish as much as the next person, but imposing an animal on a family without a prior discussion is a really terrible decision. I should be able to say that I am astounded that someone was that clueless, but in all honesty in this day and age I am not that surprised by that level of stupidity… sad I know.
    On the upside it looks like Rainier has a lovely pineapple there so at least things worked out for him… for now 🙂

  2. I had the joy of buying a pregnant fish, who guess what had babies and the other tank mates did not finish them all off so now we have the multiplying fish tank

  3. Years ago, we had a blizzard that knocked out power for a week. It was -15F and everything froze, including the goldfish in his bowl. Once the power and the heat came back on, the little guy thawed out and happily swam around his bowl again. Goldfish are carp and their blood is anti-freeze.

    I am not suggesting you freeze your goldfish…. I would never suggest anything that useful or cruel – but I just thought you would want to know that it is possible.

  4. Pingback: Fool Boat. | Milk & Whiskey

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