If you ever meet my five-year old daughter L.E., please don’t mention that her pet fish died last Monday. Or maybe it was Sunday, it’s hard to do autopsies on Betta fish, and I don’t have one of those black light glow sticks they insist on using on every episode of CSI, so I can’t pinpoint the exact time of death.
But I do know that he is dead. Baby Neptune, lovingly named as a tribute to the Baby Einstein videos, has taken his last lap in his tiny bowl in our upstairs bathroom. He lived two years, which I think makes him roughly 800 in Betta fish years, and he served us well.
The problem is that L.E. hasn’t noticed he’s gone yet, which raises a lot of questions for me and my wife. Do we tell her? Do we kind of just casually bring it up over chicken fingers, which currently constitute 87% of what L.E. likes to eat, or do we have some kind of serious parent moment? Do we wait until she notices and then walk her through the 1 stage of grieving for a Betta fish? (Which, by the way, is going to the store to buy a new one.) Do we just replace him without telling her?
We have a surprising amount of questions for such a small pet, but this is not the first time a fish has caused me to wrestle with curiosity. I actually have more fish-related questions about those Ichthus family stickers I’ve been seeing on cars lately.
From what I can deduce from my highway research, instead of just having one Christian fish that symbolizes the whole family is down with the King, you get an individual fish for each member of the family. So if you have five people, you’ll have two big fish for mom and dad and then three little fish as the kids floating along on the back windshield with them. It would be weird if I rolled up next to someone in traffic and yelled, “I have some questions I would like to ask you about your stickers,” so I thought I’d ask you instead.
1. Can you personalize them or does everyone in the family get the same sticker? Say that I was a metrosexual worship leader, could I add some little white Puma sneakers to mine or perhaps fluff up some of the scales with a little product?
2. What if one of your kids isn’t a Christian yet? What if you have a two-year old, do you leave them off the car until they become a Christian? Or do they still get some love on the car with maybe a really tiny fish and then when they become a Christian they’ll get a bigger fish?
3. Is there a good spot to be placed on the back windshield? Is higher on the windshield a sign of favor? Hypothetically speaking, let’s say one of your kids doesn’t do a good job helping you cut down trees in your yard and one lands on your neighbor’s roof, do you move that kid’s fish sticker to a spot under the back wiper blade so that he is constantly getting rocked by the wiper every time it rains as a sign of your displeasure?
4. Could we make the fish like college football helmets where every time a player scores a touchdown or does something good he gets a bone like they do for the Georgia Bulldogs? Maybe every time you go on a mission trip or volunteer for Vacation Bible School you can get an extra scale on your fish?
5. I see pickup trucks sometimes where it will say “Kevin” behind the driver’s side and “Brenda” behind the passenger side, indicating where they sit in the vehicle. Do you have to clump all the fish together as a sign of family unity, one school going the same direction, or would it be better to place them all over the car wherever you sit as a sign that God made each of us uniquely?
6. Do you ever put them on other vehicles or is it just cars? If you put them on your boat, would that just look like you really liked to fish or hoped that you caught that exact number and size of fish?
7. How do you let your kid know he’s made the windshield? Is there like a Boy Scout badge ceremony where you present them the fish after they get baptized or is it more like the Bachelor, where you hand them out and keep the family in suspense about who is going to be included on the car?
8. Can your kids revoke your fish if you drive like a maniac? If you cut someone off or swear at someone in the church parking lot, can they say, “Pull over mom, I’m gonna need to put that fish in the glove compartment for a few days.”
I think you can see my dilemma here. I’m cool with bumper stickers but I am awash in a plethora of questions every time I see the Ichthus family adventure. Can anyone answer these? Sticker families, step up. Let’s talk.