Watching Fish

Back when the summer was just getting started, we had some house guests. More specifically, our guest was my six-year old’s best friend – a girl who had moved out of our neighborhood about a year ago.

During the visit, the two reconnected (as they always do) just as though they’d never been apart.

This tale takes place on one day during that visit, when we had some other friends over as well. I was in the den on the couch at the time, trying to stay out of the way of all the playing. I noticed one little girl, also a good friend of my son’s, looking at the fish tank. I walked over to see if she had any questions.

“What’s that one?” she asked, pointing at a striped fish.

“That’s actually called a zebra fish,” I said. “Can you guess why?”

“Cause of the stripes,” she nodded. “And that one?”

“That’s called a neon, it’s-”

My six-year old pushed his way between us at this point, shouldering me sideways and out of the way. I let myself be shouldered and stood back a few steps.

“Did you see that one?” he asked her, pointing at a catfish. “We call him SwirlyEye. See?”

“He has a swirly eye!” she said. “What about that one?”

At this point, I saw our houseguest. She had noticed my son talking to the other girl. As they talked, she drifted closer.

“That one’s a meanie,” my son said, pointing to a barb. “He used to bite the other fish, but he doesn’t now.”

“He turned nice?” the little girl asked.


The houseguest stepped between them and used her shoulder to shove the other girl out of the way. “Really?” she asked my son. “He turned nice?”

He nodded at her, not giving any sign that he noticed the girl standing beside him had just changed identity.”Yup,” he said. “And that one did too. They’re the same kind of fish.”

The girl who’d been shoved aside stood up and looked at them. Then she looked at me. I smiled and shrugged. She looked at my son, then at me, and giggled.

“Cool fish, huh?” I asked.

The giggles turned into a full-blown belly laugh, and she walked off to find my other son.

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