November 15, 2015

I have to be careful how I write this blogpost. I’m either going to come off sounding like the “World’s Meanest Mommy” or I’ll be seen as an Animal-lover Extraordinaire. Of course, I’d prefer the latter, but we’ll see. Today’s Giveaway was one of our pets.

Our son Theo recently celebrated his 10th birthday. One of his presents was a Siamese fighting fish, better known here as a Betta Fish. The fish is beautiful, a deep blue in color, with delicate, frilly fins, but my reaction when I saw it was one of anxiety.  I know that it can be a character-building experience for a child to have a creature of his own to take care of. But, we have cats. Growing up in Scotland, we had a lovely cat called Spats, and I have a vivid memory of my sister Roshan winning a goldfish, who she named Nessie, at a local fair. Things didn’t end well for Nessie. I still remember Roshan crying hard when the bowl was discovered lying empty on the dining room floor. Neither the fish not Spats was anywhere to be found.

We had the Theo’s fish for about a month in a bowl on his bookshelf. Our cats come into Theo’s room fairly regularly but for a while neither of them realized what was in the bowl, so I thought things might work out ok. Then Sonic, our gray tabby, got curious and started jumping up onto the shelf and sniffing around. Perhaps it was the smell of the fish food, but it seemed that it was dawning on him that something interesting was in that bowl. One evening a couple of weeks ago, I was watching Sonic watching the bowl, and I saw him suddenly comprehend what he was looking at that. He froze, stared hard and then became extremely agitated. Since that moment, he has been obsessed with the fish. I stacked books all around the bowl and covered the top with a flour sifter and a glass paperweight, but Sonic was now determined. If I forgot to close Theo’s door, I would hear books, his food container, and various other objects come crashing down as the cat jumped up onto the shelf and tried to get closer to the bowl. One afternoon, when I rushed into Theo’s room, I saw that the flour sifter and paperweight had been pushed a couple of inches to the left. I could tell it was only a matter of time.

I thought of Theo’s friend Rodrigo. He’s a sweet, kind-hearted boy who just loves animals. He also lives in an apartment where he can’t have a pet like a cat or dog. Surely he would enjoy the fish. Theo had witnessed Sonic’s obsession with the creature, and was as anxious as I was for his safety, so much so that he’d started yelling and throwing cushions at the cat whenever he looked like he was about to leap onto the shelf. So, when I asked him if he would be ok giving the fish to his friend so it would be safe, he agreed. I texted Rodrigo’s mother about my idea. She was fine with it, adding that she thought it would make Rodrigo very happy. We agreed to give Rodrigo the fish today when he came over for a playdate. Yesterday, Sonic seemed particularly determined to snare the fish, and somehow managed to crack the small container next to the fishbowl that contained moss and water, causing a water leak all over the top of the bookshelf. I mopped up the mess, rigged a stronger barricade around the bowl, and prayed that Sonic would stay away from Theo’s room during the fish’s last night here.

When Rodrigo came over this morning, the fish was still alive. During the playdate, I reminded Theo to talk to Rodrigo about his gift. Explaining about Sonic’s dangerous interest in the fish, he told Rodrigo ihe would like to give it to him. Rodrigo’s big brown eyes lit up and he smiled a wide smile. “I used to have a fish. I know how to look after them,” he said looking delighted and excited. Theo also seemed pleased to have made his friend happy. We haven’t broken the news to Sonic yet. I imagine he’ll jump up on the shelf tomorrow looking for the fish and be puzzled at the empty space where the bowl had been. I am over the moon with relief; living in a household where one resident wants to eat another has been stressful. Now we can enjoy our lovely cat again without seeing him as a dangerous killer (on a daily basis anyway.) As for the little Siamese fighting fish, well, if he is aware of anything that is going on outside of his bowl-shaped world, now he will only see the big, brown eyes of a sweet, caring boy looking back at him.



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