If you thought this would be a deep blog post, you might want to stop reading now. My youngest son, Brody, has a goldfish. He (or she as I have no idea how to tell the gender of a goldfish)has been with us for over five years. Yes, you read that right - FIVE YEARS!!!
As a household that appears to be the Bates Motel for cats, we were all pleasantly surprised when Finner (my son named him - I thought it was quite creative for a 5 year old) was still swimming around in his tank when we got up every morning.
Well, today, I sat down to work on articles, got up to grab a snack (need carbs to think clearly and creatively) and realized that Finner was looking a bit odd. On closer inspection, Finner appeared to be floating on his side. Then he'd wiggle and struggle and swim to the bottom of the tank, only to bob to the surface and slowly roll to his side again. This is when I knew that Finner's days - probably hours at this point - were numbered.
While I feel badly that poor Finner seems to be fighting so hard to live (as I type, he is still doing his wiggle, swim to the bottom, bob to the top, roll to the side thing), I have to be completely honest and say that his passing won't leave a very large hole in my life. In fact, if you promise not to tell my son, I'll share that I'm sort of looking forward to not having to clean that tank anymore!
Of course, his death - presumably today sometime - leaves me with a parenting dilemma. If he dies before Brody comes home do I flush him (will he clog the toilet as he is rather large-ish for a goldfish)? Do I leave him floating for my 10 year old to find? Do I pull a switcheroo and get another, identical fish and hope nobody notices? Do I buy a new one that is obviously different and let Brody find out that way? Do I leave it all up to Brody?
In the grand scheme of things, this is not a huge issue, but I have this haunting feeling that some day about 20 years down the road, my dear son will be sitting in some therapists office lamenting the shock and trauma he suffered because his mom did X with his goldfish.
I still remember my mom telling me that when you flush a fish it comes up in your neigbor's toilet. I think I was in high school before I stopped peering nervously into the bowl every time I went into the restroom.
In this small thing, God showed me a bigger truth. The little things we do as parents matter. No, my son probably won't have lifelong scars if I choose the wrong choice of how to deal with Finner's demise (or if, heaven forbid, the fish clogs the toilet in at sea burial), but he will notice if I talk about other people when they aren't there. He'll notice if I actually read my Bible rather than just tell him to read his. He'll notice if I tell the occasional little white lie but scold him for doing the same. He'll notice if I am loving and gracious or if I am short tempered and harsh in dealing with those around me.
I'm guilty of getting hung up on the big decisions and not paying nearly enough attention to the daily, little things that show my kids what I truly believe. After all, daily decisions and actions are what living out our beliefs and principles is all about.
Hopefully, in the end, I come out flush!
~ Blessings, Bronte