Taking Responsibility

This past Sunday, we took the children to a carnival.  The carnival featured your typical amusements – there were clowns, animal balloons, and games of chance.  However, what really makes a carnival besides cotton candy, which I don’t think they had, is goldfish.  To truly qualify as a carnival, there has to be a table with glass jars set up and ping pong balls ready to be thrown in order to win the beloved goldfish. We all have won goldfish at some points in our lives – it’s a rite of passage. Anyway, one thing that people come to realize quickly is the short life span of a goldfish.  I once won a goldfish at a carnival, and it died before we got home.

My older son is seven going on eight. At the carnival, he won his first goldfish. He came over to where I was standing with my younger son who instantly decided he wanted a fish too. So, I went back with my older son to where the game was set up. He tried to win one for his little brother, before I, the expert, had to step in. A moment later we walked away with two more goldfish. On the way home, I tried to warn the kids that goldfish don’t tend to live very long, “Hey, it looks like we got dinner.”  They were not interested in hearing it.

Well, a few days have passed, and so far all three goldfish are alive and swimming (I wrote that quietly – don’t want to alert the evil eye).  My older son is convinced the one that is downstairs is the one he won because it is happy when it sees him. He also says it is female though when asked how he knows he did not provide a clear answer. Anyway, he is thrilled to feed them, wants the fish near him when he does his homework, and is talking about them. While he has talked about pets before, I did not expect to see him this excited over goldfish. His excitement has made me reconsider a previous held stand against pets. I think it may be good for him. I’ve heard it said before that having pets teaches kids responsibility.  So, what’s the harm in getting some fish? Not a big deal right?

Well, my wife is having none of it. “Who do you think is going to end up taking care of it,” she asked when I brought up the idea of getting some more fish?  It was déjà vu for me. When I was a kid, my family and I always ended up in a split decision over a dog. My father, one of my brothers and I wanted a dog. Two of my brothers and my mother did not. My mother’s rationale always won the case, “Who do you think is going to end up taking care of it?”  She was probably right. 

My wife is probably right too. However, I still think we should do it. She can handle it. Besides, I’m talking fish not a dog.  Either way, let’s bring the kid joy. If we don’t let him learn responsibility and the joy of caring for another, the first he might have to take care of someone/thing is us in our old age. I’d like to see him work out the kinks with the fish. They’re replaceable – they’re always at the carnival.

4 thoughts on “Taking Responsibility

  1. Great piece. One of your best. Or maybe I just related to it best. When I was a kid, I had fish and a dog. It was interesting, that when I was 9 and we got our 1st dog, a Boston Terrier, I was too young to care for it, and I gave my parents the go ahead to sell it after a few weeks. When I was 12, we tried again, this time with a Wire-haired fox terrier who lived about 13 years. My mother was less than thrilled either time about having a dog, but ironically, he became company for her when my sister and I were away in college. When she and my sister had to put him to sleep, when I was 25 and living by myself in a studio apartment in Manhattan (and made sure I wasn’t around to help with that), my mom was quite sad to lose him.

    • I’m so glad you liked it. My parents ended up getting fish. I was in my upper teens and by that time had no interest. I hear the story about the mom becoming the more attached one often. After all, if she is taking care of the animal, it makes that she is the one who becomes attached.

  2. Hi,

    Learning how to handle responsibility is so important and it is best to start learning it when you are a child. It grows up in you. I will never forget my first dog or my two cats. They were the joy of my life and I loved them. Learning how to take care of them showed me how to care for others.
    Very good article.

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