Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Slice of Life - Death of a Goldfish

I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.
     I've read three middle grade books lately that featured the perils of having goldfish:  The Fourteenth Goldfish, Out of Mind, and Death by Toilet Paper.  In Fourteenth Goldfish, Ellie's mother tried to protect her from the inevitable by replacing fish before she knew anything happened to each one (thus the title).  Melody was devastated in Out of Mind when she couldn't communicate to her mother that her beloved fish had jumped out of the fish bowl, virtually committing suicide, and her mother misunderstands.  The fish also became a symbol of Melody's own feelings of being trapped inside.  The death of Benjamin's fish is heartbreaking amidst all the other troubles he's having.  And remember this scene from "The Bill Cosby Show?"
     All these episodes in books and sitcoms make me feel like I wasn't so crazy when I flipped out at the death of my goldfish when I was young.  I'm not exactly sure how old I was when my goldfish died, but I remember completely overreacting with devastation - pointing to the poor floating creature, screaming, and crying.  It seems ridiculous given that I'm sure I had other animals die by then.  I lived in the country for goodness sake and other pets and animals.  What was it about that goldfish?  I remember my mom comforting me, but also looking a little bewildered at my great emotion. 

     I wonder if it is because they are so completely helpless and dependent on us?  Other pets are, too, I suppose; but goldfish aren't exactly hardy.  They can't last long without us.  Or maybe because it's that lack of hardiness - that fragility - that makes us want to rescue and care for them.  I don't know.  But clearly, because of the stories written about them, I'm not the only one who cried over the death of a goldfish!

Addendum:  I got an insightful comment on my Facebook post about this Slice.  She said,  "Memories of goldfish experiences are strong - maybe because it was MY goldfish in a bowl in MY room, MY first responsibility of significance.  So when that goldfish dies (as they all do), it was like part of ME died, too."  Isn't that so true?!  


  1. That FB comment really gets right to the heart of goldfish in our lives, doesn't it? So true!

  2. I remember the death of our childhood goldfish, too. Strangely, what I remember is that my mom flushed it down the toilet. It seemed to me so... undignified. So heartless. Poor fishy.

  3. Everyone has this shared experience. I had a goldfish in my classroom years ago that some parent rescued from doom and took it home. Apparently that fish lived longer than most and got extremely big, like in that Suess story. Also I had a student blog recently about her goldfish. She had a humorous take on the whole goldfish-always-die thing.

  4. We're setting up an aquarium in our classroom & the fish are arriving tomorrow! Even with the older students, they've brought up stories about their own goldfish. It is such a memorable time & I also guess that many children have it. Fun to hear, Holly.

  5. It wasn't a goldfish, but a betta fish that expired at our house. Since he died right before a trip, we popped him in the freezer until we could have a suitable funeral when we came home. Our neighborhood grammy attended the funeral!