My kids are obsessed with animals. We have three at our house: a
cat who thinks he’s a dog, a cat who thinks she’s a god and a
rabbit, Capt. Jack Remmington, III, Esq, the world’s only
rabbit/pirate/lawyer. That isn’t enough; we have stuffed animals
and we watch videos about animals and since they’ve discovered
YouTube, we watch animals bloopers until I want to throw up
(because it’s the internet and of course I watch it with them. I’ve
seen the news and I know internet predators can now reach through
the monitor and take your children right off the couch. You can’t
fool me). And now they’ve found something even better: our neighbor
has Fish TV.
My kids’ other obsession is water. Any water will do: baths,
rain, sprinklers and especially ponds and rivers – anything they
can fall into and possibly die. And now the kids have discovered
our neighbor has his own pond in his backyard, complete with koi
fish and almost scarily large goldfish.
We were out playing in our front garden: the wife and roommate
were planting, the boys were searching for worms and I was being
grunt labor, dragging yard waste to the alley Dumpsters. Our
neighbor was also working on his (much nicer) front garden and
offered to show off his newly sodded backyard, which looks like the
grounds crew at Busch Stadium did it. I went back to take a look
and while my neighbor and I discussed sod and sod care, the boys
quickly discovered his koi pond, a beautiful little pond surrounded
by expertly placed flat, gray stones. The boys were mesmerized
quickly as the two dozen or so fish swam around.
I don’t know if my sons knew what to think of this situation.
They’d seen ponds, but those were what ducks swam in — everyone
knows that — and they’d seen fish in fish tanks but those were up
on tables and normally surrounded by crab rangoon and fried rice
(we go to a lot of Chinese restaurants). They had seen TVs embedded
into the floor at their favorite burger restaurant and I have a
feeling this is what they thought they were seeing: an outside TV
stuck in the ground that only showed a fish show.
That was until Tiny Bits, our curious 18-month-old, decided the
best thing to do to TVs stuck in the ground is to throw a stick at
it (this is his go-to move for most things). This fish reacted by
swimming up and seeing if they could eat it. This widened all the
boys’ eyes; sure, they’ve seen Dora and Elmo talk to them but never
has a TV show reacted to what they had done. They quickly figured
out this was no TV show but real, live animals right in front of
them and what do you to with real, live animals? Pet them!
This was when I discovered the stones surrounding the pond were
not all glued down (or grouted or nailed or whatever you do to keep
stones from falling into a pond they are surrounding). Tiny Bits
decided petting the fish was something he needed to experience
RIGHT NOW and nearly threw himself bodily into the depths of the
pond but I was able to keep him and the stones safely dry. Then my
neighbor, not knowing my children quite as well as I do, showed the
boys what happens when you feed the fish. Mainly, they go crazy
nuts — the fish and the kids — and the boys immediately wanted to
feed them more. I don’t know a lot about fish, but I’ve heard if
you feed them too much they die or explode or something so we had
to put a stop to our little visit before one of them stole some
fish food and decide to feed the fish themselves. Or before they
got bored with trying to kill the fish and decided to see what it
would take to wipe out the sod.