The Traumatic Life of a Betta with a 3-Year-Old

Stephie189 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 B (the betta) escaped trauma a few nights ago because after giving my three-year-old his allergy medicine, he put it in his mouth, then bit off a piece and ran to B’s tank to drop it in and “feed” him. I couldn’t catch him quickly enough to stop him, but I rushed and got B out of the tank to empty and clean the tank.

Today, however, I joined Paxton in the living room after he’d been there a few minutes. Not immediately after, I turned around and noticed that the lid of the tank was standing upright and there was water all around the tank. I scrambled to get the lights on because that corner didn’t have window light like the rest of the room and was dark. When I looked back over, I couldn’t see B in the tank. “Where’s B???” Then I saw him. Poor little B was lying BESIDE the tank. I didn’t know how long he’d been there. I grabbed a piece of paper to try to scoop him up and put him back in the water, hoping it would be less likely to hurt him more… if he wasn’t already dead.

I admit; I was upset. With dismay in my voice (and probably a stronger reaction than I should have had), I said “Paxton!!!! You killed your fish!!!”

I know he’s three and curious, and I didn’t want to be too hard on him, but I wanted him to know how serious it was because I have told him many times to not open the lid of the tank or put his hands in.

For a moment, seeing the look on my face, I think he got it. His little eyes looked very sincere and solemn.

I asked if he thought we should pray for B and he said yes… so we prayed for his fish. Then, unprompted, he told B he was sorry.

I wonder how often we do things out of curiosity, knowing that we “shouldn’t,” but not fully understanding the implications of our actions. Spiritually, there is a maturing process that takes place too. Until you face the trials in life that are required to develop maturity, you don’t have the understanding our Father wants us to develop.

My little guy knows he’s been told not to open the fish tank, but he doesn’t have a full grasp on the concept of dying. He knows about Heaven and knows his sister lives there, but he’s still too little to fully understand what that really means.

“He’s okay,” he kept saying.

“I don’t know, buddy… I don’t know if he’s going to live or not.”

There are many instructions God gives us that we may not really understand WHY He gives them. If we are following His instructions and striving to live as He calls us to live, we will continue to grow and mature spiritually. Until we have that deeper understanding though, we just have to trust.

Trust that God has a reason for giving us the instructions He does. Trust that God loves us and His plans are out of that love. Trust that He’s not going to do things that will harm us in the big picture. Trust… and don’t traumatize the betta. Even if you don’t know WHY you’re not supposed to touch it the fact that He said to leave it alone is enough until you are mature enough to understand the why.

B tried a few times to swim up off the bottom of the tank, only succeeding in a crooked, awkward movement- at first. Within about 30 minutes, miraculously… he was swimming seemingly normally, eating, and acting like nothing had ever happened. The therapist in me wonders just how traumatized he is after today’s adventure out of the water!


James 1:2-5

New International Version (NIV)

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.



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