One day my son will read this blog and will probably not be delighted with our behaviour, but today is not that day. Thankfully. Once upon a time I faced a parenting dilemma I did not know how to solve. We recently had a death in the family and our little dude was grieving hard (we all were, but he was really struggling.) All of our emotional energy was centered on helping us get through a tough time. That’s when his fish started getting sick.
Now fish can have a notoriously short shelf life, and it’s not like they are cuddly, but our kid was very attached to this particular fish. The timing of the demise of a family pet is never good, but in this case, it was really, really not good. We couldn’t deal with even one more thing. I was mentally preparing myself to hold his hand as he learned of his fish crossing the rainbow bridge. Ultimately, that wasn’t something we had to deal with, for reasons I will explain.
In the interest of protecting the mastermind behind this plot, I will speak generally about what happened next. The fish did not die that day. Well, he did, but our son was unaware. In recognition of the shortage of emotional capacity of our family to sustain one more loss, some kind soul who shall remain nameless replaced the dead fish with a dead ringer. The fish was carefully studied in order to find a suitable replacement. The fish was changed out for a much more vibrant one and our son did not notice. Or so we thought. That said, the conspiracy was almost uncovered accidentally.
We were sitting in the basement of our local hospice at a grief related event. Each child was sharing something important to them, when our son piped up with, “Our fish almost died, but he is better now. He got a rare disease that TOOK AWAY HIS STRIPE.” Every parent in the room turned and looked at us, and they knew instantly what had transpired. I held my phone in front of my face to try to obscure my horrified but also slightly amused expression. Awkward laughter ensued but they kept our family’s secret, joining the conspiracy. Our precious son remained oblivious.
Maybe we should have told the truth. Maybe honesty is the best policy. Sometimes it feels like you can’t do the “right” thing and instead you do the “easy” thing and tell a little white (stripe) lie. In any event, we can’t change what happened now and the case of the “dead” ringer remains unsolved (and will hopefully stay that way. )