Saturday, March 11, 2017

The "Fun" Aunt or the "Bad" Aunt???

Oh, the trials of being the “fun” aunt.

I have three sisters, all of whom have children, and I do not. As a result, I like to be the “fun” aunt, especially when my nieces and nephews are young. I find after about 3rd-4th grade, I become the “weird” aunt and they prefer screen time to aunt time. This bring me to today’s post.

Last night, my school PTO held a fun fair at our school. I like to support PTO activities if I can, but since I don’t have kids to bring, I often invite my nieces and nephews that are elementary school age. This year, my niece, age 8, and nephew, age 4, came to play the games.

There is one very popular game at the fun fair. It is the “Goldfish Bowl Game.” You throw a ping pong ball at an array of very small glass goldfish jars, and if it lands in one, you win a goldfish.

This is a pretty controversial game, however, because a lot of parents don’t really enjoy winning a new family pet, however short-lived it may be. (Some goldfish never make it out of the bag alive. Or out of the fun fair alive. One year, a student left his goldfish in his locker all weekend.)

You can probably see where I’m going.

Immediately my niece and nephew noticed students carrying bags of goldfish.

At that point, I was torn. I knew my sister would probably kill me if they came home with goldfish, but they see the fish, and want to play the game. Now, I guess maybe I should have pretended I didn’t know where the game was and stalled all night but I just didn’t think that quickly. The game was staged in my classroom and I wanted them to visit it so I brought them there first. (Bad aunt).

The line was long and it was crowded in the room, as grumpy parents and excited (and fairly whiny) kids waited for their chance to win a goldfish. Groans were audible when the ball landed square in a goldfish bowl, as that meant a fish was going home.

My 4 year old nephew went first. Swoosh! Right into the bowl.  One goldfish going home! Then my niece went and missed. The ball bounced off the edges of the bowls and onto the floor. She wanted to play again. And never forgot.

I diverted her attention by treating them to cotton candy (again, bad aunt, but fun aunt!). We played more games - they won lollipops, tickets for prizes, etc.

But still she wanted a goldfish, so we went back. We waited in line again. I let my 4 year old nephew try for her, since we might as well get as many chances as possible. And again, he won. He knew he won for her, and she was fine with it, so we took the fish and went to pick out prizes and go.

They were excited, talking about what they would name the fish. I had to explain to the 4 year old not to shake it, don’t squeeze it, etc. I said they would need someplace to keep the fish and that their mom would be mad at me.

My niece started asking if we could stop on the way home and get an aquarium, and I didn’t know what to do. I knew my sister wouldn’t be happy and it was my fault, but I figured to minimize the stress, I would get them small tanks, food, and rocks to get it started. So we drove to the pet store to get supplies and $50 later, we were back in the car on the way home.

The reception at their house was mixed. They were so excited and wanted to see the fish in the tanks but had to go to bed. My sister was stressed about how to keep the fish alive, where to keep the tanks, and I felt bad about it all. I tried to help her find internet information on transferring goldfish to a tank but had to leave before they were installed in the tank.

I went home, feeling guilty at introducing this new torture into my sister’s life, but feeling a bit happy that my niece and nephew were so excited.

This morning, at 7:30 AM, I get a phone call. It’s the little, scratchy voice of my 4 year old nephew. “Becki, my fish died.” Sniffs were audible on the other line. I said I was sorry and was he ok? He said “Bye” and hung up.

So much for being the “fun aunt.”

Epilogue: His family made a trip to Petsmart today and returned with a fancier betta fish. Hopefully it lasts longer. I’m hoping not to receive a call from my niece tomorrow. I’ve heard some of the goldfish from the fun fair have lasted four years...


1 comment:

  1. Oh, my, the connections I can make! Our carnival/fair-prize goldfish always died in 24 hours. My son has bettas and some have lived over two years, so easy to care for. Here's to your fish success!