Thursday, June 15, 2006

Beware the Mother's Curse

You know the mother's curse "May you have children exactly like you." (Usually said to a child having a strong-willed, trouble-making period.) Sometimes the curse is restated "Wait until you have a child who (fill in annoying, embarrasing, toilsome, or destructive bahavior here)." Apparently, when I was about 10, my mother uttered this curse because today it was fulfilled.

When I was a kid, we spent a week every summer in a rental cottage in rural North Hero, Vermont on the shore of Lake Champlain. It was a long drive from Central New Jersey where I grew up... especially when sitting in the back of our little, brown Honda Civic with my sister and our fluffy, energetic Chow/ German Shepherd mix. Our visit every year coincided with the Champlain Valley Fair where we would go and ride carnival rides, watch tractor pulls, see farm animals and eat delicious but very unhealthy food. My sister and I often saved up quarters so that we could play the games of chance on the Midway and win cheap treasures that we could haul home to document our ring tossing or number picking prowess. Usually, we walked-away empty handed, but one year we captured the gold medal of the Midway... two live goldfish.

Winning two goldfish wouldn't appear on the surface to be that big of a deal. You take them home, dump them in a bowl, get some fish food and enjoy them until they move on to the big fishbowl in the sky. (Carnival-won goldfish aren't known for their life-expectancy.) However, when you win those goldfish while on vacation 8 hours from home, it becomes more problematic. This is how my mom got her new lettuce crisper. Who knew that Tupperware could be so versatile? Sometime while my sister and I took turns holding the temporary home of our new pets in our laps as we drove through New England or maybe while we were shopping for a tank, gravel, food and other fish paraphenalia, my mom must have muttered the "mother's curse" because today...

We went to our town's annual street fair. We started the celebration in the traditional fashion. We stopped for doughnuts and drinks to go at the grocery store then went to eat breakfast while waiting in line for the library's book sale to open. After buying two boxfuls of books (not our best haul, but some good buys nonetheless), we parked Buster (our new-to-us, fire engine-red Suburban) and proceeded to the fair. After walking the length of the main strip, getting faces painted and eating lunch, we told the kids that they could each pick two activities (depending on cost). Primo and Terzo opted immediately for the rides. Secondo wanted to play a game and win something. Quarto was content to take everything in from his position in the carrier on Frodo's back (not that he had much choice). Frodo got ride tickets for Primo and Terzo and waited with them while I took Secondo to find a game to play. Upon spying the inflatable clownfish on a booth (the international sign for "win a goldfish"), she made a bee-line for the booth. We paid for our basket of ping-pong balls, and Secondo went to work. After watching a few tosses followed by frustration at their not even reaching the table, I encouraged Secondo to throw underhand. The next few tosses reached the table, but bounced erratically due to the fact that they were amazingly misshapen. As I was pondering whether the deformed balls were purposefully left in the rotation because of their erratic tendencies, I watched as one of Secondo's balls collided with that thrown by a couple next to us. The deformities on the balls complimented each other in such a way that they locked together and dropped directly into the mouth of a markedly small goldfish bowl. "I won a fish!" Secondo screeched in my ear. Secondo carried her new charge, aptly christened "Goldie", with great pride and care as we made our way back to the rides then on to the car. This is why Frodo had to leave for his study time early today. So that he could pick up a fish bowl, food, and other fish paraphenalia.

I have added a new lesson to our summer schedule. A science unit on fish.

And I will not mutter the "mother's curse." I will simply end today's blog entry with this moral:

Be careful what you wish for. Your child might get it.

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