Platts: The slippery slope to parenthood
I have become a proud, and slightly frightened, fish owner.
This was not a thought out process where my roommate and I discussed the idea of having a fish, spent a good amount of time trying to have one, and then curated it into existence over several months. No, this was more of a, “well this looks fun…oh crap, what did I just get myself into?” situation.
The story began last week when a good friend of mine confessed over a glass of wine that she was very tired of her fish and her inability to take good care of him. She has a hectic work schedule and caring for another being was not on her list of priorities or desires. So, in a surprisingly maternal act, I offered to take the beautiful Beta fish off her hands and raise it as if it were my own.
His (we believe the Beta to be of the male gender) name is Samson. However, my roommate wants to rename him Lil’ Blue. We are in disputes about this change so for the moment we just call him Fishie. While I was concerned about this at first, he doesn’t seem to notice the change and isn’t suffering any obvious identity crises due to the confusion.
First thing I did for Samson/Lil’ Blue/Fishie was order him entirely new living arrangements. The insightful, yet bombastic, advice from the pet store employee in town contradicted my personal desires on how I should raise my son. He said Betas were used to cloudy and small environments. Apparently, they need very little to survive. I found that offensive. I wanted to spoil my new son with spacious accommodations and clean water. And that’s exactly what I did.
Now that he is settled in his tank, I’ve noticed that my own anxieties have set in. I have constant dreams about the Beta’s comfort levels. I wonder what he is thinking about. I wonder if he is happy. I wonder if he even thinks or has emotions. And, yes, I wonder how I became such a basket case over my new responsibility.
Suddenly, there exists a living thing in my life that is essentially helpless without me and the two to four pellets of food I feed him daily. My maternal instincts are at an all-time high — which isn’t saying much — and I’m finding I’ve even rearranged my schedule at times to take care of Samson/Lil’ Blue/Fishie. It may be one microscopic step for humans — perhaps it’s even be a step backwards — but it’s a huge leap forward for me. Because this is just one of the first steps in what can lead to actually becoming a parent (queue the horror music).
The initial step usually comes in the form of a plant. I didn’t have much luck with any of mine so I decided to skip that step. Next comes a fish or some kind of reptile that needs little attention but has a pulse. Afterward, it’s important to look into a mammal of sorts to really get a grasp on one’s own species. For the truly daring, this is when a dog or cat is brought into the family. For the more noncommittal types, this may mean a hamster or maybe just a particularly lifelike stuffed animal. And then, after years if not decades of training, perhaps, just maybe, we will be ready to care for another human being. No promises there though.
As I dive into parenthood, I look forward to the adventures and challenges ahead. I know I may not have been fully prepared for this fish, but perhaps we are never ready for the beings that enter our lives. We just have to work with what we’ve got and do the best we can.
Samson/Lil’ Blue/Fishie died by the time this column went to print. Hee hee….just playing! Barbara Platts is still a happy fish owner who can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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