When in doubt, remember Mr Phineas

Two weeks ago my youngest child finished Year 11 and decided to buy herself a baby goldfish. She did some research on how to maintain the health of a cold water tank, used her own money to buy the tank, the filter as well as several decorations.  A day later when the tank water was correct, we brought this tiny white with black spots ‘goldfish’ home. She named him Phineas. Mr Phineas in fact, to use his correct title.


For two weeks, she took such good care of this tiny fish; she was regimented in his feeding schedule (yes, really!), she monitored the water quality like a hawk, and we all took great delight in watching Mr Phineas swim around, lodge himself under the rock to sleep, and generally be quite active.  I honestly never thought a tiny fish could be so entertaining, nor that we would become attached to him the way we did.


Yesterday afternoon, we noticed that Mr Phineas was struggling to swim and was floundering near the surface. For the life of me, I couldn’t see what could be wrong with him, although he was also listing to one side and swimming very little.  My daughter was absent from home so I hurriedly changed his water thinking that perhaps there was something wrong with the quality of it, and googled the hell out of all the reasons a fish might behave this way.  I prayed that he wasn’t about to die. I really did.


My daughter finally came home and through her tears, noticed that part of his tail was missing!   I felt awful for not having noticed this before.  We realised that his tail must have been caught in the filter of the tank and that Mr Phineas was now fighting for his life. She suggested through her tears that perhaps we should put him out of his misery, seeing as he was struggling to survive.


After I had worked through my initial horror at the thought, I told her that Phineas was clearly a fighter and (after some more furious googling) that apparently fish tails and fins can actually grow back, like lizard tails; it just takes time. I had hope; a whole basketful of it.



I believe that we often find ourselves in situations that we never planned for, and in which we feel completely helpless and hopeless.  Mindset is everything at times like these.  Be like Phineas: even though you may have lost your tail, keep swimming little fish; while there’s life, there’s hope.


I’ve been on tenterhooks since last night, waiting for her to wake up this morning to see if Mr Phineas is still alive.


I hope he is.

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