All right, moms and dads of this world. If there is one piece of advice I can give you right now, it’s don’t be the hero.
Just don’t. Say no.
Say, “No, my little mini me, you may not bring home the innocuous looking little pet turtle from your class for the weekend. It will be for the best.”
Then they’ll give you that heart broken face, and their little lip will pucker a bit, maybe even quiver, and then you’ll see the freckles on the bridge of their little noses that reminds you of your spouse, and you would have wanted someone to spoil the 11 year old version of your spouse, so you say “yes” anyways.
Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
After months of deliberation, we finally caved. Yes, we. Not just me. We as in the love of my life and myself. We said yes to an innocent little turtle for just three days and two nights in our home of luxury.
Well, luxurious I suppose for a turtle whose previous life probably consisted of foraging and fending off an occasional predatory varmint, fighting the cold of Minnesota nights and the heat of its one or two hot summer days.
No more danger now for little Bob, now it is fed an unfettered supply of luscious store bought lettuce and left over bits of raw meats.
Oh, the life of a class pet box turtle.
Or at least that’s what I think it was. It didn’t really come with directions. My daughter said the only rule really was to return it alive on Monday.
Simple enough you say? Well, let me introduce myself a bit. My name is Becky, married to the handsomest guy on the planet (and smartest, and most hard working, and basically all around good guy), with two precious clones of ourselves,
and 20 ducks and chickens
and two indoor cats
and two indoor dogs.
So basically I spent the entire weekend defending the honor of this sweet little box turtle.
First I was making sure that cats wouldn’t use it as their play thing. Cats really are awful creatures sometimes. I’ll just leave it at that. But no death of turtle by cat was going to happen in my house.
Then it was this fricken dinosaur toy. Apparently when turtles are spending their days pretending to hate every color of cabbage and lettuce your child tries to feed it, only to inhale it once they turn back, those dirty bast…ah, dirty turtles are thinking about dinosaurs. They are thinking about doing awful, awful things to that plastic six inch dinosaur toy. But they wait for the kids to return to their viewing session to display nature at its finest. Oh, the irony.
*Palm to forehead*
*Removes dinosaur with a plastic glove just in case* cuz, really, who knows? I don’t want to think about it. I just don’t want to touch it.
Well, we made it to Sunday night and I was honestly pretty proud of us. I was tucking the kids into bed, feeling like a polished parent, the PTA looking kind who does nice things for their kids and class pets and stuff.
And then I heard it.
I heard the wrestle, the kind I hear when both dogs are playing together. Only one of the dogs was in the kids’ bedroom. With me.
My spine stiffened and my stomach knotted, and I skittered calmly out of the bedroom so as not to alarm the nearly sleeping child before me. I sprinted down the hall and I nearly fainted. You all, I saw the dog with his head in the plastic bin on the floor holding the 50 year old prized class box turtle named Bob and I almost screamed out loud or passed out did one of those slow motion run things you sometimes see in the movies in order to save it just in the nick of time. Or stood there frozen for a second.
I guess I missed the whole fight or flight thing and just go with freeze now when I need to instead jump into action.
At some point my body must have snapped out of it, as I told the dog to sit and thankfully that old sack of lazy bones decided for the first time in his shaggy life to listen. He sat, and I saw the drool all over the turtles’ shell, and I was never more thankful to see that weird looking freak of nature in one piece. I finally exhaled, and I did the unthinkable, the thing my kids had no problem doing for the past 48 hours.
I touched it.
I picked that ugly basta… animal up and I tried to inspect him the best I could. How does one medically inspect a greenish brownish turtley thing that has completely shut itself up in the shell? I can’t really tell if he’s breathing. He’s not really moving. But he’s not bleeding, so maybe that’s a good sign? I looked him right square in the eye, or where I suspected his eye would be if he hadn’t shut his little shell door like an arrogant prick, and I tried to will him out.
So I put him back in his little bed of wood shavings and waited it out. If he was alive, at some point, he would come out of that shell and I would see him, and then I could sleep with a good conscience.
Apparently I don’t have a very strong conscience as I somehow managed to fall asleep on the floor next to the clear plastic bin thing that held the prized turtle. I know I was sleeping, because when I woke up the thing was gone. Absolutely gone!
I looked everywhere. Well, there was only one hiding spot in the whole container to look – right under his little plastic shelter thingy. Not many other places to look, so I kinda hit a fast dead end when he wasn’t there. Maybe it somehow crawled out? Oh God, had it crawled on me? I searched everywhere for that little bastar… precious gift of life but he was nowhere to be found.
Then the knot in my stomach came back, and I hated every cell in my body for being such a lousy human being that somehow allowed the class turtle to be eaten by a dog twice in the same evening. I am an awful human, an awful mom, an awful protector, awful everything! I should never again volunteer for class pet ANYTHING!
I studied the clear plastic tub thing littered with the remains of lettuce that didn’t meet the turtle’s ridiculously high standards and wondered how on earth I was going to explain this to my daughter. Do they sell identical looking turtles around here? Are those types of pet stores open at 2 in the morning? Maybe I can just lie and tell my sweet little daughter, my mini me, the apple of my eye that a burglar clearly came into the house last night and stole dear old Bob.
Just as despair set in and I faced the fact that I had just failed, miserably, I saw something move in that goshforsaken bin. I cleared my eyes, thinking I was now delusional, when I saw it again. And then again.
Apparently box turtles burrow when they are nervous or scared. Mr. Bob finally decided to man up and bring himself to the surface.
I was both filled with joy knowing I hadn’t made my daughter the turtle murderer of the fifth grade, but I was also a bit pissed. I mean, come on turtle, I was looking all over for you. You couldn’t have unburrowed, oh, I don’t know, LIKE 30 MINUTES AGO?
Well. Lesson learned.
The next morning I helped her pack that little tiny beast into the back of her ride’s SUV and waved them goodbye with one hand, holding a highly caffeinated coffee in the other.
When she came home the next day, I casually asked my daughter how it went with Bob back in the class. She excitedly informed me that “Seriously, mom, literally everybody that saw me carry Bob into school cheered – they said, ‘Yay! You didn’t kill the turtle this weekend! He’s alive!’ and they even cheered in the classroom. It was weird, Mom, how everybody was so happy to have Bob back. I guess being the first one to bring him home makes me the coolest.”
I nearly passed out. Dear, God, I nearly made my daughter the one that “literally, everybody” jeered instead of cheered. *Says a quick prayer of thanks* *Exhales completely* *Takes a chair for a moment*
*Replies to daughter* “That’s great, punkin.”
Punkin: “When can we do it again, Mom?!?”
A fun challenge brought to you by: via Tuesday Photo Challenge – Pets — Dutch goes the Photo!