Because sometimes a status update just isn't enough.

Because sometimes a status update just isn't enough.

23 September 2011

When Good Parents Go Bad

I'd like to start out by saying it wasn't my fault.

First and foremost, I blame Halloween Carnivals. I'm pretty sure the little "Goldfish Game", where your extremely uncoordinated small children randomly throw ping pong balls at fish bowls and then win a goldfish BECAUSE THEY TRIED AND EVERYONE IS A WINNER, are a mass conspiracy put together by psychiatrists to insure that one day, someone will be lying on a therapist's couch talking about the time their mom killed their goldfish... and then lied about it for 10 years.

So here's what happened:

Years ago, when my two youngest boys, Kacey and Brennan were respectively 5 and 7 years old, they went to a Halloween Carnival that was conveniently fronted by a church. (That way no one would suspect that the real goal was to send little children home with goldfish that their parents neither wanted nor expected. Bwaaahaahaaa, said Satan.) Both boys "won a fish!" by lobbing ping pong balls at hundreds of fish bowls all smooshed together, which pretty much made it impossible to lose. (Because that's the way life is, people... No one ever loses, everyone is a winner, and everyone gets a fish for their mad throwing skills. Right?)

They were super proud when they came in the house with their little baggies of fish. Since they'd gone with another family, I couldn't exactly refuse to let them bring them into the house (no one wants to be THAT mom, am I right?) so I smiled and said something like "Yay! Look at that! Awesome!" while thinking, "SHIT! FISH! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH FISH??"

After the other family had left, I launched into a speech about how the fish were THEIR responsibility, how they had to feed them EVERY DAY, and I wasn't going to take care of them. (Yeah right.) We bought a fish bowl, some gravel, some random little plants, and the boys promised to love them and cherish them forever and ever.

Every day for two weeks I reminded the boys to feed their fish.

Every. Single. Day.

It was usually at 8:00 at night, minutes before they were supposed to be in bed, when I'd say, "Did you remember to feed your fish today?"

Of course they hadn't. Duh.

They would feed the fish, vow eternal love to their gilled little friends, and go to bed.

After two weeks, the fish bowl was pretty gross and my house was starting to smell like the harbor. After the boys had gone to bed one night, I decided to clean it.

I dumped the fish in a small plastic bucket, scrubbed out the fish bowl, rinsed out the gravel, filled the bowl back up with clean water, and dumped the fish back in.

Literally one second later, they both floated belly up to the top, having died instantly from shock.

It was one of those moments where as I was dumping them in I was thinking, "NOOOoooooo.... stopppppppp... you forgot to make the water room temperature...."


I quickly came up with a lie (not unlike the Grinch, when confronted by Cindy Lou Who as he was stealing her Christmas presents), flushed the fish, and set the newly clean bowl on the table, just as if the fish were still swimming in it.

I determined that in the morning, when Kacey and Brennan noticed their fish were gone, I would tell them the cat ate their fish.

Because that's what good parents do, people. Like you would have told your sweet faced, rather clueless children that you were a Fish Killer.


Come morning, for the first time EVER, the boys, ON THEIR OWN, sprinkled fish food into the bowl and went off to school.

They never noticed the fish weren't in the bowl.

I was a little flabbergasted, but I let it slide.

For the next 7 days, they religiously sprinkled fish food into the empty bowl, every single morning before school.

Oh dear God.

It was getting embarrassing.

They would blow the bowl kisses before they went to bed at night, saying "Good night, fish!" in their sweet little boy voices, making me feel awful (as well as concerned, because seriously... are my kids that oblivious?).

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.

On the 8th morning, as the boys were feeding the bowl, I said, "I can't see your fish... can you?"

"Yes," they said.


"Are you sure?" I asked. "Where? I don't see them!"

They looked again and discovered that THEIR FISH WERE GONE!

It was a mystery, for sure.

With a little prompting from Mommy, we determined that the cat, indeed, must have eaten their fish.

Bad kitty.

Tears and accusatory looks at the cat abounded that day. We mourned the fish, ostracized the cat, and decided that since Kitty couldn't be trusted, we probably shouldn't get anymore fish.

(Yes, I know. I know. Seat, Hell, me. Got it.)

I actually held on to that secret for YEARS, finally telling the boys when they were leaving home to join the Marines.

Surprisingly, they were shocked.

"MOM! Really??? YOU DID THAT??!!! HOW COULD YOU??!!!"


It really wasn't that hard.

Sorry, boys.

Anyway, this Geico Commercial is what brought that to mind this morning... I laughed myself stupid when I saw it:


  1. Too funny! We lost so many animals while I was growing up that death was pretty much accepted for any small creature that entered our house. The dogs survived surprisingly.

  2. Oh no! Well, if all you ever lost was two stinkin' fish then I'd say you did alright. When we were kids, my sister, bless her heart, could not keep a pet from an untimely death. Fish, hamsters, guinea pigs. All dead before their time. My mother would never cop to it, but I think she might have accidentally played a part in one or two of those events. So hey, at least you came clean!

  3. Most of our pets lived long and happy lives... My kids had an evil hamster with three legs that lived for FIVE YEARS and then one day, just vanished. I kid you not. There was no way he could get out of the cage... it wasn't possible... but we got up one morning and he was gone. After I confessed about the fish my boys were convinced I murdered the hamster, too... but I didn't. He's probably still out there somewhere, lurking... I hated that thing.

  4. Oh dear god, carnival fish. My parents took the wee ones to the carnival a few years ago, and they came home with fish. 3 freaking fish. So we did the same thing you did . . . bowl, gravel, plants. Somehow we did know you can't just dump the fish in new water. The fish got bigger. We got a bigger tank. The fish got bigger still. We got a big ass tank with lots of gravel, plants and even a filter. Then one died. The boys never noticed. Still haven't to this day. But the two left are the size of kittens. These things are monsters and I have no idea how they are still living. Aren't carnival fish supposed to die almost instantly??? Isn't that the deal?? When I was a kid, all of ours died almost the next day. I thought they were just made that way. I had never seen 4 year old monster goldfish before. Now they live with me. Damn fish.


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