Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Fish Pledge

When she wants something, my twelve-year-old can be very persuasive.

This year she's set her heart on getting a fish. I was not so crazy about the idea for a couple of reasons. We tried fish when she was younger, and she got bored with them pretty fast. I think we have enough pets (three cats, a dog and all the snakes, birds, squirrels, spiders and strays that have now figured out that our yard is the safest place for them in the neighborhood.) And while my daughter loves animals and wants her own "personal" pets, she often forgets to regularly feed and care for them, so they all eventually end up becoming my pets.

So when my daughter brought up the subject of getting a fish this year, I instantly vetoed the idea. I discussed my reasons with her, and I thought she'd accepted it, but a week later this is what she wrote at the bottom of her Christmas wish list:

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My Fish Pledge:

YOU BETTER NOT LAUGH.

I promise to forever care and accommodate any fish that I am to get. I promise to buy the supplies like fish food and any accessories I want to buy for my fish with my own money. I also promise to feed it every day and if the tank needs cleaning, I will clean it. The only thing I ask of you to do is to buy the fish(es), tank, water, tank gravel, 1 bottle of fish food, a guide on how to take care of fish, and the usual water treatment stuff to purify the water or whatever it does and the normal care things for the fish that I need like a filter. I also need you to take me to the pet store AT LEAST once a month to buy supplies. If I do get a fish, I promise that I will try to make it stay alive for the usual age that the species lives in captivity, and I promise to make that fish have the best life in the world. I promise to always feed it, and if I forget to, you don’t have to feed it. And if it dies, it’s MY responsibility and fault.

The only time I will ask you to feed it is if I go on a trip and I will not be there to feed it. But the only thing I expect out of you is that it will be MY fish, and I get to pick out the food I want, the fish I want, the tank I want (if I’m getting another one), and the accessories I want; none of this “This one is cheaper though!” crap.* I AM PAYING FOR THE STUFF. (Except for the stuff in the beginning that I mentioned) That fish will have the greatest life in the world. I promise to always take care of it, if you buy it for me. I will do WHATEVER you want for 1 month and I will promise not to go into babysitting until I become a mother’s helper, clean my room and keep it clean forever or the fish gets taken away, and I will not get anything else for Christmas. (Except for the fish and I realllllllllyyyyyy want the phoenix puppet for my b-day)

Note: It took me like 3 hours to write that… please don’t say no… :’(

Note2: I really am begging now, please…

Note3: If you still think no, then please consider the following if you did not read it:

*quote*

“I promise to buy the supplies like fish food and any accessories I want to buy for my fish with my own money. But the only thing I expect out of you is that it will be MY fish, and I get to pick out the food I want, the fish I want, the tank I want (if I’m getting another one), and the accessories I want; none of this “This one is cheaper though!” crap. I AM PAYING FOR THE STUFF. (Except for the stuff in the beginning that I mentioned)” “I will also do WHATEVER you want for 1 month and I will promise not to go into babysitting until I become a mother’s helper, clean my room and keep it clean forever or the fish gets taken away, and I promist to be a great child.

(I hope that you will reconsider now if you still think no…)

Note4: I have already researched some fish at www.fishlore.com

This is the list of things I want for Christmas for my fish and the basic stuff you need to run a fish tank with:

The Type of fish I want:

1 betta (female and I want to pick it out)

The equipment I need for my fish and want for Christmas:

1 2-5 Gal. Aquarium

1 pack of Blue Gravel ( I like blue J but any color will do.)

A Sponge Filter

1 Aquarium Light and top

Some Test kits (pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate) (nitrite and nitrate are not the same, look at the spelling!!!)

Food, Nets, Scrapers and other equipment (like water conditioners)

(I specifically need beta food)

and also at least 1 plant and 1 rock.

Please, please, think about this, I really am serious this time, I promise to god that I will take care of these fish, and they will have the best life in the world. I’ve been thinking about getting fish for a long time, since at least a month after my hamster** died. I know now the responsibility of taking care of pets and I promise that these fish will not die because of my laziness, but instead of old age or disease from unknown or known (but not from me) sources. I promise that if I do not treat these fish nicely and take care of them for as long as they live, or if I get board with them, then I know that you will take them from me and give them back to the pet store.

If I am not clear enough yet, please consider that I have done much research about fish and I understand how much responsibility goes into taking care of just one fish and that it requires lots of work, and I am eagerly willing to do that work this time for I now believe that I am mature enough to try once more and start over the way I started, by fish. If I become lazy about these fish, I know that you will never, ever, EVER, let me have pets again, but this time, I’m serious, and I know that I will take care of these fish. So please, please reconsider if you still think no.

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The kid knows how to make an argument, and no, I don't have a heart of stone, so I am reconsidering. After all that, how could I not? And I wonder if I can get her to write a New Heated Swimming Pool Pledge for me to add onto the bottom of my Christmas wish list. . .

*I like how I'm portrayed as a cheapskate here, all because I won't let her buy whatever she sees at the pet store without first making some price comparisons.

** Sweetie Pie passed away peacefully in his sleep of old age after two years of being my hamster.

26 comments:

  1. Aww, you're kids sound so great. Lol, she seems to be quite the deal maker, she's got me convinced, lol.

    Yeah, when I was little, I used to be like that. My brother and I both had hamsters and they wound up being my mom's hamsters eventually, lol.

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  2. So, what are you going to name the fish? ;-D

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  3. I made a similar vow to my mother when I was nine, in regards to a rabbit I wanted. Long letter, with a list of responsibilities I would personally attend to. I described the rabbit I wanted in detail -- "the color of cream of tomato soup, please" -- and I practically signed my request in blood. It's a wonder I didn't seek out a notary public to witness the document.

    I had no idea at the time that the reason she didn't get one was not because she didn't think I could handle it, but because the family was direly poor, buying groceries on credit cards, barely able to pay the rent, and even a rabbit and its meager needs would have been a burden on the family's finances.

    To this day she still has my hand-written pledge in a scrapbook. I illustrated it with pictures of me taking care of the rabbit and the rabbit's cage.

    Today, I suspect if I got a rabbit it would be to braise it and serve with port-soaked cherries and red cabbage.

    This heart-touching holiday story has veered off in a weird direction, so all I shall say now is: Mmm. Rabbit.

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  4. "I promise that these fish will not die because of my laziness, but instead of old age or disease from unknown or known (but not from me) sources."

    Oh God. Never mind the fish, she just about killed me with that one! Yeah, you would have to have a heart of stone to ignore such an excellent argument. I hope she runs for president someday. She'll win.

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  5. I had a Male Beta when I was a teenager. It wasn't hard to take care of him and he lived a good while. I was horrible about cleaning his tank too. Good luck with your decision. She does make a compelling case.

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  6. Anonymous4:54 AM

    Oh, boy. Fish.

    When I was a girl (18 or so) I had gotten into the fish hobby. I had about 10 tanks running when I was really into it, with different kinds of fish, and while I did learn a lot about fish, it was a chore. Fish tanks involve weekly water changes, which means lugging gallon buckets to and from the bathroom several times. That seems like it's no big deal, but after weeks of this, it starts to wear on you. Even if you're down to one tank, lugging the buckets every week is no fun. And if you have other pets to care for, it feels like all you're ever doing is caring for pets.

    Personally, I'd advise you to forget the fish and focus on a pony. They're much easier to care for--because someone else gets paid to do it!

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  7. I had a Betta once and they are quite wee characters. Mine liked to be petted and would rub against my finger if I stuck it in the water. My friend had one that would attack her finger with a very wild fin flinging display. They also like to jump out of the tank, so a lid is very important, and they are top skimmers - which is why they are finger friendly.

    There are lots of Betta sites where you can find information on their care.

    As far as fish choices go - she's picked a fabulous one! I would suggest doing some reading up on the breed and giving her a pop quiz to be sure she really is as clued up on their specific care as she thinks she is. It'll show you've done your research too and if she's anything like my kids, that'll scare the bejeebus out of her. Good luck!

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  8. Betta fish are beautiful, and not too difficult to care for. My family always kept them in the vases with the plant on top- you know, with the roots growing down into the water. The betta fish would keep them trimmed and he lived a good long time. Wikipedia begs to differ, though.

    Just remember, if you do get her a fish, keep a copy of the contract both by the tank and on your harddrive. :)

    (They also might be more entertaining then you think- they're so aggressive that they'll swell up and try to drive away their reflection if you put a mirror up to their tank. I've never see this done, but they won't hurt themselves and it's supposed to be funny to watch.)

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  9. Melissa B.9:25 AM

    LMAO, you have to get her a fish now! And beta fish are really resilient. My family has one and their cat knocked it's tank over. It was flopping around on the floor until my brother saved it and it still survived! They also forget to feed it regularly and it still lives. Must easier to take care of than goldfish. And you don't have to change the tank water every week like anonymous said. Probably once a month would do it.

    Also, I think your daughter takes after you. Her writing reminds me of yours. :)

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  10. I had a fish tank through part of college, grad school and then life on my own at my first "real" job. I always had plattyfish of mollies. Both were pretty harder little buggers and not aggressive. You could have more than one platty or molly in your tank... they do however, make fish babies which is a whole separate problem.

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  11. Aww. I think the fish should be named Cherijo!

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  12. After reading her argument I wanted to buy her a fish and I haven't agreed to buy the munchkin one yet.

    Good luck whichever way it goes!

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  13. Bettas are EASY and tough. And they don't need all that 'stuff'. Really. (We've had ours (betta #3), oh, three or four years now and he just has a round bowl on a bookshelf with a little snail for company. I had one in college that I kept until our daughter was five or six). Awesome, tough fish.

    But, if you get her a smallish aquarium you can 'add on' other easy yet tough fish later, like White Clouds (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Cloud_Mountain_Minnow) or a plecostamus. White Clouds are often in the 'feeder' tanks near the feeder guppies. They sort of look like red and gold neons. They'll school, they'll breed (easiest egg layers to breed, hands down, they do it when you're not doing anything special at all), they're incredibly tough, and they're actually pretty.

    If you have a plec, tho, he'll eat all the White Cloud eggs.

    You can never go wrong with Bettas or White Clouds. Especially for a beginner.

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  14. bran fan12:32 PM

    Forget fish, let's talk about books! Can I hire your daughter to be my agent? What editor could possibly say no?

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  15. Man, I remember the 101 reasons for internet list. And I remember thinking that you had your work cut out for you with this daughter... looks like I was right.

    Have fun with the potential (probable?) fish!

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  16. Shiloh Walker1:19 PM

    *G*

    I like your kid.

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  17. Now I've got the thing about overfeeding fish and fish physiology on my brain from QI (the UK quiz program).

    But can't remember what they said - completely. It was about some of the time when fish float to the top of the aquarium they aren't dead but have been overfed. It's going to really bug me now that I can't remember. LOL

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  18. oh boy, you are in trouble. Hand the checkbook over now.!

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  19. catslady5:25 PM

    and I promise to make that fish have the best life in the world. -
    that's my favorite line.

    Someone gave my daughter a fish tank with a betta - yeah I got the duty. Had some guppies and catfish and snails. Poor Betta got this horrible eye disease but the guppies lasted a long while (babies) and the catfish maybe 7 yrs. I was so tired of cleaning that tank. I'm told the smaller tanks are more work.

    Anyway I'll take cats any day over fish - good luck.

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  20. Awesome letter. Well thought out and she knows how to tug on the heart strings.

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  21. I think you should get her the fish.

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  22. Just be thankful she doesn't want a pony.

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  23. I'd like to know if you let her have her own computer! LOL

    Let her have the fish - but have her sign a contract, and use her letter as the official document! :)

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  24. I say get her the beta and one of those slime sucking fish to clean the tank :)

    Merry Christmas!!

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  25. How about a bird. They're way more fun and you can even get them to talk! Fish are so...fishy...

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  26. #1: What is it with kids wanting fish for Christmas this year?!? (Yes, mine too.)

    #2: Impressively written. Gee, wonder who she gets those fine writing skills from...

    #3: Seems sort of like the "why did I teach them to talk?" thing... except it's "Hey! She's using writing against me!"

    #4: Still trying to figure out the fish thing. Maybe it's contagious?

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