The Fish, the Fridge and the French

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What if you don’t want another door to open after one closes?

Like when your kid’s fourth fish dies in one year and your husband promises him a turtle.

I mean, can’t we just let bygones be bygones?

It’s like those fridge magnets inscribed with inspirational sayings designed to make us feel better about whatever situation we’re in, or at the very least, a little cooler when people come over.

“Whittled down wisdom,” my mother calls them.

I call them stocking stuffers.

Unless you wrote it, trash it, I say. Sorry, “Anonymous,” but money CAN buy you happiness, and love does NOT conquer all.  But, of course, you already knew that or you would have signed your name.

If I sound like a bag of downers, I don’t mean to. I’m actually pretty bummed about the fish, as well as sad for my son. But the little guy hasn’t even grieved the deaths of his first three fish – Sweetie Pops I, II and III – because we replaced them faster than his tear ducts could pucker, let alone inspire an original legacy.

I mean, what’s going to happen to him when something dies that actually has legs?

Nope, there’s really only one quote that’s resonated for me over the years, and that’s the American translation an old French saying you may have heard of: “C’est la vie.” STUFF HAPPENS, PEOPLE. And whether we “Keep Calm and Carry On,” or “Go Climb Rock,” it’s still going to happen. No bumper sticker or t-shirt mantra’s going to change that.

Lipstick on le pig will never change the fact that it’s le pig.

So, do we shelter our kids from the harshness of disappointment by doing the ball-under-the-proverbial-cup thing to distract them from looking inside their hearts? Or do we rip off the Band-Aid and expose a wound for what it really is?

My husband used to say that whenever our kids cried as babies, I’d run to them, perspiring and desperate, because I was personalizing it.

“They cry because they itch, want a snack, or maybe because they’re bored,” he’d say. “We cry over things they won’t experience for decades. Relax.“

But my son’s first fish died when he was 5, not 30.

“Maybe if we’d called a spade a spade then, he’d be better equipped when that turtle bites the dust,” I offered.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” my husband mused. “Some turtles live for 100 years.”

And the ball stays under the cup, again.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just being a curmudgeon who wants a little empathy from her kids when she finds herself hiding under the covers, shivering in a ball, looking for a refill. Or maybe I just don’t want a turtle.

Whatever the case may be, my son has actually has had six fish due to two unfortunate down-the-drain deaths that I hid from him, along with the rest of my family. I’d tell him now, but then he’d suffer a potentially broken heart at my own hand – a fish killer and a liar.

Show me a fridge magnet that can get me out of that one … and I’ll show you France.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. A Sugar Mama Classic…….All I can offer is “When Life Gives You Lemons, Pucker up” or “When a fish dies,’Scale it’ and move on”! Not very helpful but know you will carry on doing a marvelous job with those wonderful boys! xoxo