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The timeless Fair game with a fishy prize
Em 082919
EMILY AND CHASCA have now joined the multitudes of parents who are raising the goldfish their children win at one event or another. Young Thatcher seems enthralled with his fishy prize.

GAYS MILLS - Well folks, we have hit yet another epic parenting milestone. We have brought home our very first Fair Fish. 

I shared this small tidbit on social media and was astonished to discover many others had their own Fair Fish story. 

Fortunately, only one of them ended in “our fish died the next day.” All of the rest of the Fair Fish families reported health and longevity for their little swimming friends. 

“Ours lived for so long that it ended up in my aunt’s pond,” my cousin reported. “We thought for sure it would die because Lilly was always forgetting to feed it.” 

Feeding the little creature is going to be a whole new venture I think. For one, they don’t seem to carry fish kibble at the local Marketplace. Sunday when I stopped to pick some up, the person working the counter noted, “several people asked, but we haven’t gotten any in.” I suggested maybe picking up a case around fair season for all of us new pet owners. 

My other concern, aside from limited local access to kibble for the beast is Thatcher. When he is into something, his sweet little toddler brain goes the course of more is better. Currently, that train is stuck on a tooth-brushing track–as he will brush upwards of TEN times a day. I have a feeling though that once he sees his new orange friend sucking fish flakes into its tiny little mouth, feeding him into oblivion will be a fan favorite. 

Thatcher has named the little feller ‘Fluffy’–an interesting choice, but one he made immediately. 

It gave me cause to recall my own Fair Fish. I have a very vivid memory if leaning over the old claw foot tub in my childhood home outside of Beloit with my mom. In my mind’s eye, I can see her feeling the water temperature and trying to get it just right for the fish. All the while, I’m holding the stinky fishbowl I carried from across the hall where my bedroom was located. 

This was one of the few utilitarian things I ever remember doing alongside my mom. 

We would drag the little bowl that contained my two fish Hailey and Bailey into the bathroom, and find a cup, usually the one I used to rinse my hair and capture the two little fish. And then the ritual of getting the water just right would begin. I’d get the job of dumping and scrubbing the little bowl clean and whatever castle or accessories they had. All while my mom waited for the water to be perfect. 

My fish lived for an absurd amount of years as well. I can’t exactly remember how long, but they certainly surpassed all of the little finches my dad brought home from the pet store or many a barn cat that came and went. Perhaps, it had something to do with my mom’s ever present diligence to get their water just right.

I should disclose, that I actually won Fluffy. Thatcher and his dad and Papa had taken off to go inspect the coin dozer. Sunday’s rain had just started pouring down so I pushed Waylee Bop through the drizzle to the comforts of the wide tented fish game. Waylon seemed quite enamored with the entire fair and didn't mind stopping to watch me toss a few ping pong balls into rather small glass bowls-which were complete with little Plexiglas center pieces that cause the balls to bounce back out with too much force.

The game was a lot different than when I played as a kid. Gone are the individual bowls, filled with fish in colored waters. Replaced with tissue paper and the aforementioned barrier. But at $6 a bucket o’ balls, it still seemed like the least expensive chance at winning a halfway decent prize.  I began tossing the little white ping-pong balls every

which way, in hopes of landing at least one. Waylon took on the role as my delighted cheerleader, squealing and chirping with the ping of each ball as it made contact with the bowls.  Feelings of defeat began to rise within me, and in the back of my mind I was starting to feel glad Waylon was the only one to witness this fishy failure.  “I’m not to good at this Wayls,” I said in a bit of a downtrodden tone. 

Apparently that’s all it took for the Carnival Gods to smile down upon me, because as fishy as it may sound, I landed my lone Ping-Pong ball directly after my admission of defeat.  The woman working the booth quickly produced my fish from a cooler and off we went before we could get wrangled into another attempt. 

As I rounded the corner with Waylon’s stroller clenched in one hand and Fluffy triumphantly raised in the other, the look on Thatcher’s face was very much well worth the $6 price tag. 

This morning as I walked out the door, I was happy to see Fluffy has survived his first 24 hours in his new wide mouth quart Mason jar home. Hopefully, I can continue to provide such positive reports on our new friend.