Just Keep Swimming

When I was a kid I had a pet crab named Herman, the Hermit Crab.  As far as crabby personalities go, Herman was a star fish among them.  He lived an extraordinarily long life, considering he would climb to the top of his wire cage, hang there for a few a minutes, and then fall to the bottom of his cage with a shell-rattling crash.  He did this over and over again.

Perhaps I drove him to cage-climbing OCD?

I’m still not sure if I am to blame.

Herman suffered severe brain damage from his repeated  falls.  I was well-practiced in my psychotherapy skills by the age of ten, so I feel certain I can make the brain damage assumption.

Herman dined on a limited diet of peanut-butter on the half-shell and tap water.  Apparently my parents were too cheap to buy me crab food pellets believed in creative meal substitution, but Herman didn’t mind one bit.  In fact, I think he preferred peanut-butter to crab food, especially when I smeared it on a Ritz cracker.

butter+smooth peanuts+salt = fine dining

If you’re a crab.

I felt a certain bond to Herman, the kind of bond that some children have with their pet dog or perhaps the house cat.  One day I found his naked body outside of his shell.  Herman was ugly in death.

I mourned the loss of a cage rattling friend.

When my daughter was four years-old, she experienced such a loss.

Repeatedly she begged for a pet fish, so like any other loving mother trying to stall first fish love, I told her that if she kept her room clean for an entire summer, I would buy her a fish.

Four year-old clean is not the same as mother clean, but she worked at it everyday.  Proudly she’d bring me into her room to show me her orderly chaos.  As luck would have it, her mom’s housekeeping is not so different from her four year-old definition of clean.  So, I bought her a fish, a Beta Fish.

My daughter named him/her Necklace.  For simplicities sake, we’ll call Necklace a her.  I just cannot imagine an him appreciating the name Necklace.

Necklace was loved, talked to, and severely over fed.  She could only live so long eating two and a half pounds of fish food a day.  Betas only grow so big.

When necklace passed from tap water unto death, my daughter cried.  My husband spoke a blessing and flipped her into the woods, not the burial at sea she deserved, but heartfelt none the less.

The time of mourning passed through our home rather quickly, but Necklace’s memory lived on in the form of a construction paper and marker drawing.  We hung the drawing over Necklace’s empty bowl and packed it up when we moved.

Necklace is forever fishyfied in child heart art.

Recently my daughter has been begging and pleading for a fish.  The inevitable will come.  Another fish will eventually swim in her bowl.  Today we went on a fish fact-finding mission to Pet Smart.  Oh, the fish you can see in Pet Smart!

Did you know they are classified under Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced?

I actually found this class system helpful.  After all, I am looking for a fish with a high tolerance of child.  Remember the little girl on Finding Nemo?


My daughter is looking for a fish who will follow her finger when she touches the bowl.  The follow the finger skill will determine which fish lives in my home.  I wonder is that a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skill?

Do you have fish?

Advice is welcome.

So on this Monday, Memorial Day, just keep swimming friends.

And don’t become SHARK BAIT!


  1. You had me laughing about your crab being ugly in death! LOL…too funny! My kids had fish when they were younger. I’m afraid I’m not much help since we seemed to kill them rather easily. Good luck in your endeavor.

  2. Just be prepared to use the flush=heaven story!

  3. My four year old is begging for a fish too. He has a friend who has one and there is a fish tank at his preschool. I keep resisting. His dad was hoping that someday (with 2 boys) my no vote would be outnumbered and we would get a dog, but HT is allergic to dogs and only wants a fish instead.

  4. My daughter #2′s dog has pet fish. No lie. :)

  5. I do not have fish, so I can’t help you there. However, I love Dory! She is the background on my computer at work. It makes me smile when I see it and after almost 35 years there, I need something to make me smile. haha

    Also, the ringtone for texts on my phone is Dory saying and singing, “You know what you gotta do when life gets you down? Just keep swimming…” and Marlon yelling at her for getting that song stuck in his head. I love it. That has become my philosophy in life now. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Is is stuck in your head now?

    Happy Memorial Day my friend and good luck with the fish hunting.

  6. My blessing on your fish-finding mission. Sorry I really can’t be much help. I think my only advice would be to get a breed that doesn’t eat their own babies…that way if you buy one that is already preggers there is trauma waiting to happen!

  7. The part about your crab giving himself brain damage is hilarious. As for the fish for your daughter, do you have a bowl or a tank? (I was kind of a fish nerd growing up.) Ther aren’t a lot of fish that can live for very long in a bowl–not enough oxygen. Mostly goldfish and bettas. I had an african dwarf frog once though, that was kind of fun.

  8. Thankfully my kids haven’t made the foray into fish land. I had goldfish as a kid and after about 5 of them died within 1 or 2 days of being brought home, I wrote off fish. So I don’t have any advice, but good luck in your search!

  9. Ah the fish love of a girl. Practice for later in life? Pet Smart is pretty smart with those sneaky commercials advertising $1 dollar fish. She was hooked and has tried every persusion she can come up with. It would be our third or fourth round with fish I think. It show no signs of slowing down. It seems tweenies with 2 dogs still need a fish. Go figure! Happy shopping.

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