Week after week the big guy looked at the whole trout wedged in the bank of ice at the fish counter. Head, tail, fins, and all.
“I want one.”
“Those are not alive anymore. They can’t swim,” I’d tell him.
“I know,” he’d say with a mixture of confusion and proud defiance.
The last thing I needed was meltdown and tantrum that involved the blood guts and smell of a dead fish. The regular ones were bad enough. Tantrums that is.
But, last week his dad happened to be on the phone at the same time we were at the fish counter.
“Tell Daddy! Tell Daddy I want a fish!”
In a rush to distraction I hand the big guy the phone just so I can hear myself think. And tell the fish guy I need all the scallops he’s got.
By the time he wraps them weighs them and sticks the label on them my son had finished with my phone.
With one hand on his hip and my phone in the other outstretched in my direction.
“He says YES.”
What?? Of course Daddy has already hung up and I’m on my own.
Alright time to head over to the freezer.
“Here, you’ll like these,” I say as I hand him a box of fish sticks with the most interesting label I can find. I even point out the little fish on the label and explain that these are the same as the one in the ice only someone (not me) has already cooked them and made them taste really yummy.
He’s not going for it.
“You know you have to eat it if we buy it right? It is food not a pet.”
How can this be my child? I told my mom if she gutted the fish we caught in the lake one summer it would be like eating my brother! Can I really be considering this? Buying a whole stinky dead trout that I’m going to ultimately have to wrestle away from his four yr old hands just to keep him from getting some deadly fish disease?
Yes, and I did. He picked out the exact one he wanted. NOT the small one I suggested. But, the one he perceived to be the BIGGEST. And he carried around the store for the rest of the shopping trip and the ride home.
Getting it in the fridge was a bit difficult as he thought it might like to take an afternoon nap with him in his bed.
Once the big guy finally fell asleep (sans fishy) I informed Daddy that it was his job to get it cooked. I was not going to be touching it or in anyway involved in the rest of this experiment that HE had agreed
I held my breath the entire afternoon and wondered wish decision was going to be the breaking point of this potentially life altering adventure.
Do we prepare it without his presence? Or with him there? Does he realize it is going to get all shriveled up on the grill? And the eyes all nasty? How many bad dreams have I just agreed to?
He sees dad about to filet it and screams,”Don’t hurt my fish!”
With those four little words I see the entire evening going down hill fast.
And of course my parents are coming over for dinner. And we’re preparing a scallop dish that takes two of us(mom and dad) to choreograph. Ok so I just measure and direct while dad handles the mixing.
We’re going to need more wine. But, all we’ve got is the bottle of white that is used in the scallops. It will have to do.
The fish goes on the grill whole and wrapped in foil. So, as not to hurt it. And with a little coaxing dad is also allowed to skin it and pull the meat off the bones. I guess once it was cooked he was really convinced of its deadness.
Although as Dad went through the painstaking process of picking out each and every bone he could find, I felt obligated to warn him that there was no way in this this green earth that the kid who gags at yogurt and applesauce is going to eat more than one bite of that thing. If even that much.
And do you know what happened next?
He ate the whole dang thing!