January 2009

Forgot to mention R’s mishap, which happened on Friday.  She was concerned because she noticed the lid was not properly on, and not wanting her fish to jump out of its little plastic hovel, she squashed it on as firmly as she could.  Unfortunately, she squashed the cup at the same time, enough to make a large crack in the side of the cup and spill a fair bit of water.  Just as well I was in the room!  I transferred the fish to a plastic food container – not the insulated one – possibly twice the volume of the cup: positively palatial!  I hadn’t yet found out about the bottled water requirement, from my parent-teacher informant – but the fish was still alive at the end of the day.


Someone suggested I give the fish away – plenty of people round here would like a pet, I was told.  Funny, having been told that (and thinking about E and R going to that person’s house and saying, “Why didn’t we keep it, Mummy?), I’ve started coming round to the idea of keeping it…  I even went out yesterday and bought it a big round plastic container to live in!  It’s a much better size, but the fish still spends most of its time skulking at the bottom.  Not sure it’d prefer it in the fish shop, though, to be honest – I’m not sure conditions match those of first world pet shops…  They may well have been in the plastic cups in the shop, from what I hear.

So, R went on a school trip last Thursday, to a pet shop.  And she came home with… a fish!  In a large plastic cup, complete with lid with hole for straw/oxygen for fish water.  Somewhat more welcome, but no less bizarre, was the other freebie she came home with, which was a small insulated food storage container.  Cool (to my practical maternal mind) – but why?  Turns out they visited an ice-cream shop on the way home.


Anyway, back to the fish.  I scanned R’s folder for notes from the school to explain – there were none.  Perhaps, I thought, the fish were all to be returned to school after the weekend to be put into a school fish tank?  I looked again at the fish.  I have a small amount of tropical fish-keeping experience from my past, and thus felt fairly confident that this was a Siamese Fighting Fish.  Not the most gregarious of fishes, as you might guess.  Actually, I seem to remember they’re ok with other species, it’s just with each other they like to fight to the death…


My mind was then a whirl of outraged questions, which developed something along the following lines:  What was the pet shop thinking of, giving away so many gifts like that?  (In the UK, they don’t come cheap, if I remember correctly.)  What was the teacher thinking of, accepting them?  Did she have any choice, though?  Are there cultural rules which had to be followed?  And now, how am I expected to convince my children that we should respect all living things, if I’m not willing to buy this fish a decent-sized tank to live in and change its (bottled!) water once a week?  Then again, what else am I going to do?  Leave it to die of neglect?  Throw it to the cats?  (No, what if it poisoned the cat?)


It was a pretty canny move on the part of the pet shop owner, wasn’t it?  I grumbled to another parent about this (she’s also a teacher at the school) and the only alternative we came up with was giving it away.  I don’t know, it still feels like the pet shop owner “won” like that…  (Shouldn’t he be made to be more responsible?)


I’d love to know what you, my readers, think of all this!