Monday, January 07, 2008

Couples Therapy for Goldfish

This year during the holidays we decided to forego the obvious gift of a Wii for our kids in favor of a goldfish tank. My theory was that if we could keep a goldfish alive for a few months, we could probably manage a dog eventually. Conveniently at the same time we presented the kids with the tank I came across a woman looking to get rid of a couple of fish. So we inherited a South American Chiclid (i.e. fancy goldfish) whom we named Goldie.

Goldie was a cute little bugger always with a smile on her face, but she didn't do much aside from hide behind a plant all day. Goldie came with one of those algae sucking bottom-feeders as well, but he didn't do much except, well, suck.

We decided to get Goldie a friend. On Saturday morning we picked up an additional fish, one that was slightly smaller than Goldie, but of the same South American heritage as the nice lady at PetSmart suggested. We named it "Dusty" (I wanted to name it "Bait" but got outvoted by my daughters). As soon as we added Dusty to the tank, Goldie bullied him into a corner and wouldn’t let him out for two days. Eventually we figured we’d be better off replacing Dusty with something bigger and more manly, a fish that could hold its own against Goldie's smackdown. But no, nice lady at PetSmart suggested instead that I take them both out and put them into a bucket for a while, then rearrange the tank. Basically, they’d be going into neutral territory, and when they got back into the tank everything would be all new, so it wouldn’t be like the new punk gettin’ all in Goldie’s space ‘n shit.

After a couple hours of tank cleaning, I dropped the new guy into the tank and let him check the place out. He seemed okay with it. Then I dumped Goldie in, and she got all, “oh no he di-int’” on Dusty's ass, chased him into the corner, and that was that.

We haven't seen Dusty since. My guess is Goldie offed him and buried the body under the coral reef.

I realized today that, even though the couples therapy session wasn't so effective on the goldfish, perhaps it might be an effective measure taken against warring children. You see, we have perhaps the two most angelic, sweetest children in existence. When apart from each other. But once they share the same airspace, it's like the French & Indian war broke out in the family room. First Jes is yelling about Natalie stealing a barbie. Then Jes won't share the beads. Then Natalie allegedly hit her. Then one frowned in the other's general direction. Then she hurt my feelings. Then she won't let me watch Franklin and insists on watching her fifteenth episode of Zack & Cody. For god's sake someone call Rodney King!

So here's my plan. I'm going to get a 55 gallon drum. Fill it with packing peanuts. Put both kids in it. Then, while they are fighting about who gets to make the little snappy-snap sound by breaking the peanuts in half, I'll go upstairs and rearrange their rooms. When I'm done, it will be like we moved to a new house, they won't recognize it, and magically they will just get along.

Nah, I don't think it will work either. But I like the idea of keeping them in the drum for a spell.

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