Last week our black goldfish, Kicker, indicated a desperate need for help.
It was pretty obvious. One day he was floating at the top of the tank, unable to swim. Still very much alive, he seemed trapped at the surface of the water. After a day or two of this, I wondered what, if anything, could be done.
I researched the condition: Swim bladder disorder. Kicker has all the symptoms.
I applied the recommended solution: Feeding him cooked, skinned green peas (I wonder who discovered this and how?).
Problems ensued. Most of the green pea chunks that I tried to feed Kicker either came apart or sank too quickly, before he could get to them; although Kicker can move, it’s limited. He has great trouble maneuvering and navigating. I watched with increasing concern – how long can a tiny, ailing fish last in this suspended state?
I did more research. One site recommended putting the green pea chunks on a toothpick.
As you can see in the video clip, it worked.
Each day I am able to make sure Kicker eats his peas. He sees me coming and excitedly tries to meet me, paddling himself backwards, sideways, upside down, whatever way he can, to get his sustenance.
Kicker’s still kicking, but he’s not well yet.
Another layer of intervention is needed, apparently.
I can’t help but think of all the children who struggle with reading.
Very quickly, their needs become obvious – these readers cannot keep pace or go deep like their classmates. The reasons are varied and must be explored; a diagnosis must be made, an approach must be developed. Research-based strategies that worked for others can be employed, but time is of the essence – is it working or isn’t it? Is the child making progress or not? How long can a child float at the surface in such a suspended state before the condition worsens? What are the long-term ramifications? What else can be tried for the sake of the child, whose future is at stake?
To not do anything is to . . . well, in Kicker’s case, it’s to watch him die.
When I first started teaching, a well-respected teacher told me, “You can’t save them all.”
Those remain some of the most chilling words I’ve ever heard.
What if that was my child?
Would I not do everything in my power, seeking the advice of others, hunting down books on interventions and overturning every virtual stone in cyberspace, to find answers? Would I not TRY?
As I write, Kicker watches me from his tank. He’s waiting for me, for whatever help I can give him. When I go to him, he will meet me and do the best that he can. I will try another research-based strategy today, as I don’t know when his window of time will close.
We owe the children no less.
If you’d like to read Part One of Kicker’s saga: Flipover