Memories Monday: The Goldfish Switch

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory” Dr Seuss



The Goldfish Switch: When our son, Thomas, turned 8 years old, we got him a goldfish.  He was so excited to have a fish of his very own.  He named her Goldie.  Thomas loved Goldie and would often hang out in the bathroom watching her swim around.  We put her in the bathroom because there was a tiled ledge with a plug in on the wall behind it, and the cats would not be able to have access to her… just in case they wanted to “play” with Goldie.

About 2 weeks after Goldie came into our lives, Thomas had to go down to his dads for the weekend.  Before leaving he made sure his new best friend was fed and he also wanted her to know that he would be back soon.  He didn’t want her to think he was leaving for good.  I was also instructed to check on Goldie and make sure she was fed and comfortable.  (You all know where this is going, don’t you?)

The next morning, I head up to the kids’ bathroom to check on our gold family member, because I take my fish sitting seriously.  I open the door and bid Goldie a cheerful “good morning” only to find her – well there is no easy way to put this- DEAD!  So, I do what every mom would do… I screamed for my husband.  Shawn came up the stairs thinking there was some sort of horrible crisis and realized that the fish had kicked the bucket.  While he was not as empathetic about it as I was, he knew how much Thomas loved his fish and realized telling him would be extremely hard.  I suggested replacing Goldie with a new fish that looked just like her, which Shawn thought would not work, but it was worth a try to avoid seeing our boy break down and sob.

The worker laughed at my husband as he explained to him what we were trying to do.  After searching several tanks, Shawn found one he felt was very similar to Goldie.  The worker wished him ‘good luck” as he paid for the new and alive Goldie.  When he got her home (him/her who can tell) he let the bag float in the tank to acclimate her to the water temp. Once we got her into the newly cleaned tank, we knew he would never be able to tell the difference.  After burying Goldie the First, Shawn took off to pick up the kids from their dads.  While he was gone, I did get a little nervous and went to check on Goldie #2 several times.

Thomas was the first one through the door and up the stairs.  I could hear the bathroom door fly open and Thomas screaming “Goldie I am back!” In my head I am doing the biggest happy dance ever.  Goldie #2 lived for 2 years before heading to that fish pond in the sky.  However, this is not the end of the story.

Thomas is now 17 and about to head of to college.  Almost a year ago, we were all watching some TV show where the parents were desperately running from pet store to pet store in search of a new goldfish to replace one that had died.  Out of the blue, Thomas said, “You guys would never do that to me, would you?”

Shawn smiled and said, “Well, not again.”

It took this very intelligent child a couple of minutes to comprehend what Shawn had said.  Thomas responded with, “Wait, what?”

It was then that we had to fess up to what had happened.  Luckily, he was not upset with us; he was more shocked that he did not realize it was a different fish.  He actually understood why we did it and praised us for being such caring parents.  Every now and then he brings it up… just to tease us about it.

When I look back on that weekend, I know that I would not have done anything different.  Our one and only thought was to prevent our  son’s heart from breaking… and we did.  Even if we had to be a little deceptive.

About The Author


Mom of 5 amazing kids, married to Shawn, retired teacher of 19 years, cares for a total of 9 pets (3 frisky cats and 6 great-tempered dogs), daughter, really amateur photographer, photoshopper, a football, wrestling, track, baseball, dance, and tumbling mom, zazzle designer, constant dieter, handles the budget, hates to cook, addicted to coffee, trying-to-quit smoker, TV potato, and passionate about writing.

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