For the Love of Fish

I have always been an avid animal lover and begged mum constantly for a pet (as well as a sibling, which I put in the same category as a pet). After a long debate with my mum over getting a kitten, mum decided to compromise and she bought me a goldfish, claiming that if I could look after the goldfish for a period of time, she would then consider getting me a kitten or a puppy.

My first goldfish was named Fred. I fed him, cleaned his tank and did everything I could for him, but within two days, he was belly up in his bowl, much to my devastation.

Mum tried again and we got Speckles, who had bulging eyes and colourful spots. Speckles lasted a little longer than Fred, by a few hours.

It wasn’t until we got the third goldfish, Gobble that mum realised what was going on. She came out of the shower one morning just in time to spot me slipping Gobble gently back into the fish bowl.

“Kylie what are you doing?” This question always yielded exciting results.

“I’m putting him back to bed, so he can sleep.” I glanced back at Gobble, who, like the others was now belly up in the bowl and unmoving. I began to cry and mum tried calming me down, explaining to me that fish can’t live out of water, to which I interpreted to mean ‘you can’t have a kitten.’ This of course caused an uproar from me, as I tried to explain to mum that I was doing my best to love him, by giving him kisses and cuddles.

His golden colour was all over my hands and face and mum continued to try explaining to me why none of my fish wanted cuddles from me, as she wiped the fish goop from my skin.

“Fish can’t breathe unless they’re in water.” Well if that wasn’t the silliest thing I’d ever heard. I argued with my mum for some time, trying to explain that a hug is completely harmless and in no way can love such as that kill a living creature and she was just buying sick fish that didn’t like me.

I was so worried that Gobble’s death would make it impossible for me to ever get a loving pet, such as a kitten, a puppy, or a little brother that I refused to back down and hear reason.

It wasn’t until mum came home a couple of days later with an excitable little brown haired pup squirming in her arms, that I was able to admit that fish probably don’t like hugs nearly as much as a puppy does.

I did have to make a point of informing mum that it wasn’t my fault they didn’t like my hugs, by wrapping my arms around my mother’s middle and showing her just how good my hugging skills were. “See Mum, I give really good hugs, so those fish are just fussy, coz no one gives hugs better than that do they?”

Of course my Mum had to agree with me, while stifling her laughter and shaking her head.


The pet fish were a test for me to show my commitment to having a pet. Part of pet ownership is ensuring you show your pet love on a daily basis. What better way to express love than by giving hugs and kisses? How was I supposed to know hugging a fish would be a death sentence for it?

This story is one of many true tales of Kylie's childhood antics. If you would like to read more, a copy of her book 'That Horrible Child' is available on this website under the 'Books' tab, or you can purchase a copy from Amazon or CreateSpace. Click on accompanying photo to view purchase options on

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