Monday, June 15, 2009

How David Got a Free* Fish

So we were at the Smoky Hill River Festival (more on that later) and the boys wanted to play some of the games. First David attempted to pitch the dunk tank, with no success. Next, we spied a game consisting of a table covered with vases of water. There were some small fish in a couple of these vases. The object was to throw a ping-pong ball in the general direction of the vases. If the ball landed in a vase with a fish, you won a free* fish. It seemed fun. It seemed just David's skill level. It seems that I must have been thinking something like, "in the unlikely even that he lands in a vase with a fish, we can all praise his skill and laugh about how he won a hypothetical fish but not really but that is ok because he'll be satisfied with the sense of accomplishment," or something like that. Second ball, free* fish. Turns out it was just a coupon for a free* fish at the local pet store. From that moment on, going to the pet store and getting his free* fish was the only thing that mattered.

Incidentally, I thought Simon could play this game as well. I know he can throw, but that day, he just kind of jerked around spasmodically and then let go of the ball.

So I gave the issue some thought. The coupon is for a free* gold fish but you can't just buy a gold fish and take it home and put it in a bowl. Bettas are the fish for that because they can breathe from the surface and don't need water pumps and all. So I decided I would just go to my local pet store and drop some spare change on a Betta, and put it in a bowl for David. Skylar mentioned that the pet store has a whole Betta kit with bowls and rocks and all for less than $20--way more than I wanted to spend, but I figured it was less than equiping a gold fish. So that was the plan.

Well, then Jaime mentioned that Walmart has inexpensive little fish tanks. They are probably cheaper than the ones at the fish store. Sure enough, just $9.43 with a pump and a light and everything. Everything except rocks, and a plant, and fish food and water conditioner, and a little net, and a free* fish. So we get all that stuff, too, except the free* fish. Turns out that is still less money than just a plastic box with rocks, plants, food, nets, and water conditioner from the pet store where we go to buy the free* fish. As I write, it occurs to me that, since we ended up with a pump, we really didn't need to confine ourselves to a Betta. We could have gotten a gold fish. As a matter of fact, we could have gotten a free gold fish with our coupon, but I don't think that occured to us at the time.

So just shy of *$40 and an hour later, we have a very cute little tank with rocks and a plastic plant, and a pump and a free* Betta. I think we should name him Patrick Henry since he was not free, is not free and will certainly die.

After the Betta has been thoroughly user tested, we'll move to a standard release. Our plans include a real plant and some snails to keep the place tidy. So our household and grown ever so slightly and the boys have a slightly new level of responsibility.

We have decided that we'll remind David to feed it every day for one week. Thereafter, we will not remind him. My initial idea was that, if the fish died, well, he would learn. But I don't like that idea. Fact is, I like the fish as much as he does and I don't want it to die. So I think I'll keep tabs on wether or not he is feeding it. If he does not feed it, I will and if that goes on for a week or so, I'll move the fish to my bedroom for a period and call it mine.

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