Fish Story, Part II

Forgot to post this, better catch up...

Our goldfish from Tai Tong Ecopark lived about 5 weeks, and then something might have gotten in the open vases tanks on the balcony one night, because one morning we found everyone belly-up.

Goldfish Apocalypse inspired us to get a few Swordtails - those little red guppy-like things our nearby fish shop guy feeds the Oscars with (I'm obsessive-compulsive about things like this - Oscar Food are going to die anyway, may as well come home with us and maybe not die. I don't like getting something that would've had a better (and possibly much longer) life if it didn't come home with me.

It's... possible I applied this to the kids as well, because one moment I was striding about that dealing room 25kg heavier with a belly I had barely registered as being attached to me except for being cold turkey on all medications and alcohol (yes. ALL. for both pregnancies AND both 1+ year nursing durations (but I do pump and dump milk)), then in the next two days they schedule a semi-emergency C-section during Christmas season, Rockstar comes out, I get an unexpected proverbial lobotomy. (HN's delivery btw, was a full-on emergency C where they literally snapped the bracelet around my wrist and said "you will not be leaving this hospital until the baby is out.")

So here we are 10 years later and not a day passes now both kids are finally in full day school that I don't long for some serious work action... that must nonetheless not keep me from being there when their bus pulls up at the end of their day. Working late nights especially after they sleep is fine, but Why The Obsession With Being There After School, mum friends have asked.

Because for us it represents a commitment, a binding agreement , signed not in "blood" but in "effort". You cannot easily parent a child bent on sneaking junk or dodgy websites (I once had an incredibly educational conversation with a cabbie regarding his 14 year old daughter who spent the night on a beach in Hong Kong when he thought she was in Singapore on school excursion), that is instead a relationship between two... adversaries.

Yes, I'm aware that in very traditional Asian households last generation in particular, fear was a powerful motivator. I bet it still is today. BUT. Think how much more productive we would all be if we didn't spend all that energy on dancing around each other, and instead put it into well, getting good at something. Like, really good. I'm obsessive compulsive about all that energy that could be put to so much better use, when parent and child duke it out struggle to get away with murder are trying to pull one over on each other. The greater the fear (or insecurity) instilled, the greater the effort put into hiding stuff. The greater too, the waste of energy and creativity, on something that is quite simply not productive...

Besides, the last time I took an office job couple years ago that required some entertaining and well, not being "there," instead staffing it to a helper, HN was, put quite bluntly, awful. (Not... that said helper could handle her either, she was rolling on the floor and carrying on for longer and longer periods. The flip side of a fearless child is a fearless child :D)

Anyway. Fish Shop Guy casually pulls a plastic mug through the water and pronounces "HKD 30" in exchange for its contents. I also lug home as big a plastic bag of the tank water from the shop as I can carry, along with the 7 fish that went from random tupperware to our flower vases.

Yes This Is How We Do Fish. There is a lot of stuff that makes up the water that fish, even the ones they use to feed other fish, live in - bacteria, minerals, a very big load of I Don't Care Exactly, But I Do Want To Give Them Their Best Shot At Not Dying On Our Balcony.

Long story short, -

Fish Babies!!

Last little-tail-count has us at about 30 fry.

Not.... that it persuaded the kids to leave off Goldfish Fishing back at Tai Tong Ecopark, one weekend past...

The attraction has now expanded to three kiddie pools of goldfish, and they were completely out of bagged goldfish prizes when we arrived. (We were not surprised, because we'd passed a big bunch of local school kids and they were all holding bags of fish :D, the kids were perfectly fine fishing for toy prizes - traditional Chinese whistles - Rockstar translates the text on the packaging as something about these being the same kinds of whistles used in ancient times to catch birds (?!))

Two local boys in their teens join our kiddie pool. One of them tries to strike up conversation with Rockstar:

"(Casually, in Cantonese) I haven't broken a single "net"...... <indicating Rockstar's net> How many've you gone through? Three? More? I'm still on my first one..........."

Rockstar breaks another delicate paper "net."

"......still on my first o-one........."

I bristle slightly, and search the teenaged boy's face. He's very quick, obviously very bright, and Rockstar and I exchange a puzzled glance. Usually, the hecklers we meet are.... not quite that intelligent, with some form of "insensitive gene," when they mouth off.

"(same tone)..... be-cause............ I'm u-sing............ 5 papers in my "net" all at once....."

Rockstar blinks (who says he completely can't understand Cantonese haha)

<throws his head back and laughs><holds up his net to show us>

Rockstar: <immediately opens up the plastic frames of his remaining "nets" and starts stacking the papers together>

Local Auntie manning the stall: AIYAA! THOSE BOYS! They love messing with our customers! They are VERY TRICKY AHHH! You be careful ahhh! <waggles finger affectionately at them>

The boys chuckle, then ask us where we're "really" from and chat awhile more, before busying themselves elsewhere. They're local middle school kids working in the park for extra spending money 🙂

Y'know, once upon a time Richard Branson and his best friend Nick Powell bred budgerigars in their very first business venture. They were 11.

Things that make ya go Hmmmmmmmmm.....

The true Fish People, the Black Belts in fish (and probably most any other critter)-rearing, create mini-oceans in their homes or offices, with the salt water tanks and micro-organisms and what-not. I had a boss like that once - it's a very serious hobby that requires a lot of commitment, he would hire consultants and what-not. He would test, measure, mix, test again, because Black Belt Fish People have this whole PH-balanced mini ecosystem complete with the micro-organisms and minerals down to the incredible science that it is - they let the sand settle, the micro organisms grow, they wait for weeks and weeks, before they introduce a freaking fish into their little box of immense stress and work tank.

Oh, and they follow the press and research about ethical harvesting of living organisms vs farming/breeding in captivity, when stocking their tanks.

There's this correlation, I feel, between the ability to successfully care for critters (fine, Other Living Things) and some form of drive and ability to see things, projects, through to completion without going batshit (ironically) stressing out. With living things, you don't get a "second chance" once the pet or plant is dead. (And of course there's all the benefits of caring for something other than yourself.) I can't say why, specifically, but like per Big Data (more on that later) increasingly correlation is good enough and therefore better than the need to prove causation...

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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