Friday, August 12, 2011

A Fish Tale and Contemplating Extrinsic Rewards From Out-of-Home Sources

There was a carnival at Belle's camp today.  We're talking bouncy house, dunking booth, tickets for prizes, the whole nine yards.

My daughter won a fish.

Yes, she did.

And I mean, really, who could say no to this kid?
But seriously (sorry, this picture kills me, and I couldn't find a better context with which to put it :-)), when I arrived at camp, this smiling little girl bouncing with excitement enthuses, "Mommy, Mommy, guess what?  I won a fish!"

I'm not usually a sucker for this sort of thing, but Belle's been having a lot of sadness with her father lately, and seeing her so exuberantly happy about something made it very hard to put the kibosh on it.

So the counselor scooped this poor little minnow into a plastic baggie, tied it up, and we were headed for home.

I think my Facebook page best explains what happened next.


So BELLE won a fish at camp today...she named it Elizabeth and is thrilled beyond words. Anyone know the life span of a minnow?

5 hours ago via Facebook Mobile · Privacy: ·  · 

  • Random Friend 1 and Random Friend 2 like this.

    • Somewhere between 20 minutes and 5 years! Do you have an aquarium tank?
      5 hours ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Katie May Loud Damn! I'm off to get a tank/food right now :-)
      5 hours ago · 

    •  It all depends on if it gets fed or not. :)
      5 hours ago · 
    • Have fun!
      5 hours ago · 

    • The practice of rewarding young children with fish should be banned.
      4 hours ago ·  ·  2 people

    • They don't tend to look very unique--figure out the closest pet store that carries them and keep in mind that she probably won't notice if you replace a floater... Also, totally agree with ABOVE RANDOM FRIEND, pets should never be prizes or presents without pre-discussion with parental units.
      4 hours ago ·  ·  2 people

    • Imagine if people gave other forms of responsibly as prizes? "Congratulations, you've won the office draw and are now PREGNANT!!!". I would never play any sort of game AGAIN.
      4 hours ago ·  ·  3 people

    • Haha! Lol! Sorry! :) I kno we r suckers 4 our kiddos!! Lol!! Oops... Did I say that?!

This conversation spread transpired before I'd gotten home with the requisite bowl, water conditioner, and fish food (and I should probably note that I had no idea it was that easy to copy and paste Facebook stuff here ... obviously I removed names and such), and it got me thinking a lot.

The thing is, was I planning on buying Belle a fish?  Uh ... no.  Two big, friendly (and much loved) dogs more than fulfill the pet thing.

Was it a serious financial/lifestyle hardship for me to go buy fish miscellany for a creature that's probably only going to live a matter of days?  No.

But my very wise Facebook friends got me thinking about the concept of giving out fish as external rewards to kids, and I realized that it's really kind of a crappy idea.

For one, imagine that a kid was thrilled to win a fish only to be devastated when his or her parents say no.  Although a freaking minnow is about as low-maintenance a pet as probably exists, I'm sure that it would be an inconvenience to some people.

Also, think about the poor fish.  Now, I ran straight to the pet store as fast as I could, but the little minnow was chillaxing in a plastic bag for at least forty minutes.  And, not to sound cynical, but what if a little kid less mesmerized with love than my Belle decided it would be fun to torture a fish or something.

Cans of worms, I'm telling you ...

And, perhaps most importantly, the death talk is inevitable when you're dealing with a minnow.  I actually had an abbreviated version of said talk with Belle on the playground of her camp, reminding her that the fish might well not even live a day.

Her response, which totally melted my heart?

"Well, we'd better make sure it's the best day of her life, then, right, Mommy?"

So here is the newest member of our family, Elizabeth the fish.
What are your thoughts on this?