My family consists of one dog, one son and one wife. All three play a part in this story.
On a particular day not long ago, the TV was on and a commercial for “Finding Nemo 3D” caused my two-and-a-half-year-old son Kase to stop dead in his tracks and tune in. The commercial ended, and Kase simply said, “Fishy, like,” and continued with whatever it was he was doing.
My wife was savvy enough to catch this “Nemo moment” and swiftly added “Finding Nemo” to the number one spot on our Netflix cue. (Once again, “Waiting for Superman” has been demoted for a cartoon.)
When it arrived, we smartly used it, as any parent would, as a tool (OK, bribe!) to get Kase to eat his dinner. It’s possible that the use of a fish-themed movie to motivate him to eat salmon could have been a tad of an ethical misstep.
The next day, in an effort to get Kase out of the house and give us a reprieve from hearing, “Kase good boy, watch Nemo now, pleasssse,” damn you, Ellen DeGeneres, we decided to take him to Coney Island. He swiftly found an ocean-themed whale ride and saddled up. In typical kiddie ride fashion the whale went around in circles. Each time Kase passed us, he pointed and yelled, “Nemo!” I thought, man this kid might have a problem.
Then on the next pass he yelled, “Nemo, wall,” prompting us to turn around to see over 100 bright orange clown fish framing a game booth where you shoot water into a clown’s mouth. So $4 and one sad little girl that I played against later, Kase had his very own “fake” Nemo.
When we got home, the Netflix disc, which now takes residence in my DVD player, was turned on while a very happy boy sat on the couch clutching his brand new fake Nemo so tight that you could almost see the whites of his chubby little knuckles.
Later that week, my wife, Kase, fake Nemo and I headed to the craft store. My wife proudly pointed out that she had so many coupons that whatever we bought would practically be free. Kase didn’t really have an agenda, he was just double-fisting fake Nemo as we roamed around the store. He was ahead of me by about 10 feet when I saw him come to an abrupt stop, point and say, “Kase touch?”
I caught up to him and saw a shelf full of real, dried starfish. Kase kept his eyes locked on the starfish, and without turning, reached over and handed me fake Nemo.
This is the conversation that followed:
“OK, bud, but be careful -- those are real, and they’re fragile.”
(Grabs starfish with both hands.)
“Kase want real starfish, Nemo starfish, take home, pleaassssee?”
“Bud, I don’t think it’s a good idea, you’ll break it, I don’t think it’s safe.”
“Kase want, real starfish, Nemo tank, Kase be careful, pleassseeee.”
So as I paid for the starfish, which was practically free thanks to all the coupons, and I asked the girl behind the counter about their return policy on broken starfish parts . She just laughed at me.
When we got home, Kase watched “Finding Nemo” (just the scenes with the starfish, thank God). While we were getting him ready for bed, he asked to sleep with the starfish. I carefully explained that it might break and that it would be best to keep it on the bean bag next to his bed -- he agreed without issue!
Cut to 7 a.m. the next morning. My wife and I are awakened by Kase. “Where are your Starfish?” “Kase no find.” “Where are you starfish?” We peeled ourselves out of bed to help him look. We looked under all the stuffed animals, the beanbag, I even pulled his bed out from the wall.
Nothing! We were totally stumped Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dog’s bed littered with shell fragments. No way!
I ran to the computer and typed “dog eats real dried starfish” and promptly learn that my dog would look forward to a bout of diarrhea, dry mouth and possible vomiting
Kase is already at odds with the dog, so I didn’t want to give him a legitimate reason to hate him, so I did my best to improvise an excuse about the starfish breaking during the night because it was fragile. I was stammering all over the place, it was the worst pitch of my life.
There was a moment of silence, and then a boo-boo lip formed turning into a very sad little cry. It only lasted a minute before my wife swooped in and did what she does, telling him the new starfish was going to be even better and made of plastic so it won’t ever break and he could even sleep with it.
He rebounded nicely and ate his breakfast while happily watching “Nemo.”I put my shoes on, grabbed four poop bags and took the dog for a walk.
You can only imagine how that went!