A fish tale

"Finding Nemo" had a big impact on our household. Katie speaks whale now (which sounds like a small pig being chased by a man with a needle, but then again, I don't speak whale). Katie also has an excessive fascination with taking baths. The glow-in-the-dark, shark-shaped bath toy, which held no interest before, became the motivation between a bath every night and two on Saturday and Sunday.

But those weren't the worst results of watching the movie 436 times.

The worst thing is the fish fetish.

The girls got a fake fish tank for Christmas (prompted by the fascination with fish). It's one of those tanks that has three plastic fish floating in bubble-filled water that changes colors every second and a half.

They liked it, then they lost interest, then they liked it, then they lost interest, and so on.

They were caught trying to pry the lid off in a brief stint of interest and their father caved. He opened it up and pulled out the plastic fish the girls were so desperately trying to reach.

Pandemonium followed. The girls were scared to death of the fish and refused to touch them. Daddy put all the fish in a glass with water so the girls could carry them around and peace was restored temporarily.

That's when I came in. It was during the fight over who would carry the glass. In my infinite wisdom, I complicated the situation by dividing the fish into two glasses.

It wasn't the peace-achieving solution I'd hoped for.

One of the fish is a clown fish and a dead ringer for Nemo. Thinking that two fish would equal one Nemo, I divided them as such.

Much spilling of water, fighting and crying indicated I was far, far off the mark.

Of course, the spilling water was accompanied by screaming because the girls still wouldn't actually touch the fish.

Finally, I convinced the girls the fish would be better off back in the tank. After catching Katie on top of the dresser with the lid to the tank in one hand and her plastic sand shovel in the other about three times, I thought I talked her into getting on board.

It was a farce.

When daddy caught Katie trying to scoop out the fish with the shovel, he caved again and released the fish again to the perils of a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old.

Fighting resumed, as well as more screaming. And, then came the dread of losing one.

The fish are about an inch long and there are a lot of places they could slop to and be lost forever.

We're currently searching (in vain) for duplicates just in case such an emergency occurs. Also, we're desperate to have two Nemos.

For the interim, I named one of the other fish "Temo," and that seems to have eased Katie's need to actually have Nemo, which she carries around in her little play diaper bag.

The girls wouldn't release the fish to sleep, so I certainly couldn't get them to leave them behind when we went to the baby-sitter.

I gave the baby-sitter fair warning -- lose the fish at her own peril.

It seems she spent the better part of her day searching for fish and mediating fights.

Ah, the joys of children.

The lesson? Never buy an odd number of anything when you have two children. No matter how much one may hate the toy, she'll cry like she walked on glass when her sister starts playing with it and she doesn't have one.

Even duplicates aren't the best solutions because one child usually wants the one -- the exact one -- her sister has in her hand at that very second and doesn't seem like she'd mind if a shark came and took her sister away in order for that to happen.

That's what made Nemo an only child.

I saw that same predatory gleam in Katie's eye when Nikki was holding Nemo.

Oh well, tomorrow it'll be a different toy and the fun will begin again.

Maybe a shark will come take me.

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