And a Child Shall Lead Them to the Promised Turtle

Momservation: A vast majority of childhood is spent trying to convince your parents to let you get/keep some sort of creature for a pet.

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I thought I had avoided becoming a turtle mom.

I am already a dog mom. I have been a hamster mom once (the second time I refused custody). I’ve also been a fish mom – the least rewarding of all my reluctant guardianships (sorry fish pet owners – swimming to the top of a bowl expectantly at feeding time is NOT showing personality).

When I had kids I wished someone had warned me that they come with strings attached – mainly, becoming a de facto caretaker of a menagerie of animals that they just couldn’t live without.

Oh, and despite the care you give these pets when they are quickly forsaken for something with zero responsibility, most of them will not outlive a Goldfish cracker dropped in the center of a toddler playgroup. Your flowerbed will become a pet cemetery and you will feel your heart being tugged and pulled when copious tears are shed for an animal you couldn’t get them to support despite a custody agreement.

Last year my daughter, Whitney, (future successful defense attorney), and I negotiated terms for turtle ownership (A Satisfying Tale of “I Told You So“). We ended up with a hamster when we realized the responsibility and cost involved with a turtle greatly outdistanced the terms of the agreement.

Shortly after, Homer the Hamster was relocated through Witness Protection Program. Or the This Animal May Be Cute But It Is Seriously Stinky, Noisy, and A Lot More Work Than I Bargained For program.

Cut to this weekend. We are visiting friends who have accidently unearthed eight baby Red-eared Sliders. After enjoying these adorable miniature turtles overnight they are planning to relocate them to their nearby pond. Minus one, if Whitney gets her way.

She is begging for one of the turtles. I say “no” with my usual argument that animals belong in their natural habitat. Daddy says “no” making reference to all her unpaid “child” support obligations.

The future defense attorney does not back down. Turning to me while lovingly cupping the impossibly tiny and cute mini turtle in her hands she says, “You promised me a turtle, remember? You made me get a hamster instead, when I REALLY wanted a turtle. You said a turtle was too expensive, but this one is FREE.

“The equipment to properly take care of a turtle is not free,” I argue back.

“I can create a proper habitat with our old aquarium. It’ll be an easier pet than the hamster I didn’t really want that you made me get instead of a turtle.” When she realizes the shifting of blame for Homer’s relocation isn’t working by the watch-it look on my face, she switches tactics. “If we release this little turtle to the pond when he’s this tiny and defenseless it will be eaten by birds, the otters, fish…Please, Mom, can I save just one?”

It’s working. I’m starting to worry about these cute little guys. I decide to go with the answer I think is best. “Go ask your father.”

As I sit in the truck waiting to go home I wonder if Daddy will stick to his guns of not making me a mother again.

Say “hello” to Tiny Tim:

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