I’m not going to lie; I was pretty pissed about the fish. I was literally just back from camping with the girls all weekend at a place with no showers when I talked to Nathan on the phone and he told me that he was bringing a fish home. A whole fish. A dead fish. A trout that some guy, some other fisherman, caught and gave to him because the kids hadn’t caught any fish on the fishing trip they went on with their grandpa. And could I come get him now? Even though I hadn’t had a chance to shower yet?
I texted SG:
Holy shit. The boys are coming home with a whole fish. Their gparents took them fishing, they caught 0, and some guy gave them a fish that *I* am supposed to f’ing gut. FML. Can you talk me thru it? I have no idea how. Am PISSED. Wah ;-*
Nate and I had some back and forth about What To Do with the fish. He was perfectly willing to clean it, but pointed out to me that he’s ten and not super experienced with a knife. He suggested throwing it out, but my former vegetarian mind couldn’t wrap itself around that. No, I told him, you can’t just throw it out. I know! he said, I’ll look it up on YouTube!
And, he did just that, then announced he was ready. I got out a cutting board (which I’ll probably avoid forever and should just get rid of now) and a big chef’s knife, a small paring knife, kitchen shears (which he didn’t use, thankfully), and my toothbrush. I gave him a plastic bag for the guts and head and any other ickyness there may be to discard, and left him to it. Luckily, our kitchen sink is a double wide, or whatever you’d call it. It’s big. Big enough to fit the cooler with the fish inside, the little cutting board, and the plastic bag.
Then, I wished him luck and went to my room.
I was rewarded with some excellent running commentary. The girls were playing with stuffed animals in the living room (they were playing Girl Scout Camp, it was pretty damn cute) and Nate kept yelling to them: DO NOT COME IN TO THE KITCHEN. YOU WILL BARF. ALSO, YOU WILL BE SCARED. DON’T COME IN HERE. SERIOUSLY. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO *NOT* COME IN! TO! THE! KITCHEN!
Of course, the next thing I hear is the girls’ squeals. I may have hid in my bed with a pillow over my head. Maybe.
By the time I came to the kitchen, the girls were back to their game and Nate was making good progress. The fish was split down the belly side, and the guts were out. The head was already gone, and I talked him through chopping off the tail. Then he split it down the back, pulled out most of the bones, flipped the fillets over and did some scale removal. True that that part should have come first (I think) but all was fine since he was frequently soaking the fish in a bowl of water and rinsing it under running water. I only hovered with the bleach spray a little, and didn’t shriek when I told him to Keep that shit IN the sink, dude. He used my toothbrush to clean out some kind of vein. I totally earned my mom cred by not puking.
We got out a frying pan, some butter and the cornmeal. He washed and dried the fish once more, then gave it a nice coating of cornmeal and put it in the pan of sizzly, already browning butter. I took over the clean up, because I wanted to be able to touch my kitchen sink again someday. Less than ten minutes later, he sat at the table, eating his fish and feeling really great. He talked me into trying a bite, and it was good.
I’m proud of that kid. I remember, clearly, when I was ten, getting out of the shower and calling for my mom to come and blow dry my hair. I was a good kid, but there is no way in hell I’d have been able to do what he did, even though I started fishing at a much younger age. I just never caught anything big enough to eat.
We talked about how it went afterward; a sort of pescapostmortem, I guess. He told me that it was much easier once he finally got the head chopped off, because up till then it sort of looked like the mouth was screaming as he sawed at the neck. That was when I nearly wished I’d done it for him myself, but let’s face it; I’d have been freaking out and flapping around the kitchen like a great big goofy bird at one feel of squishy dead fish under my fingertip. And, as for chopping it up? Not happening. Sometimes we take care of our kids, other times they take care of us.
I didn’t get any gory fish photos. I just couldn’t. I did get tons of camping pictures of the girls, though.