Our New Pet: Shelly the Freaking Turtle

I’m not much of a pet person. I had dogs growing up, but wasn’t really into them. We had a few goldfish here and there. But I find animals to be pretty gross in general. And after hatching chicks right here in my own dining room, I vowed we would never have a pet ever again. Never. Ever. I can hardly take care of myself, let alone Beau and four kids. Throw in an animal and something’s gotta give. This summer, that something is Shelly the Turtle.

Shelly the Turtle
Shelly the Turtle

At my son’s preschool, one lucky member of the class gets to bring the pet turtle home for the summer. I got the call a few days before summer break was going to begin. At first I thought, wow, what are the odds? Turns out, he was the only student that met all the requirements. He has an amazing mom who is such a dedicated and giving and nurturing caregiver. They didn’t actually say that. They didn’t have to. He also happened to be the only member of the class returning next year. Therefore the only one who could actually bring the damn turtle back. I’ve never been more proud.

I had only one pertinent question. How hard is it to kill a turtle? The answer was, extremely hard. I was up for the challenge. The very nice teacher, Miss. Bait, on the other end of the phone, made it sound so easy. You just feed Shelly some lettuce a few times a day and bathe her once a week. But she didn’t stop there. She went on to tell me how great it would be for my little guy and his self-esteem. When he returned to school in August with the class turtle he would be the big man on campus. He’d be the envy of all. All the kids would want to be friends with the kid who got to take the turtle home for the summer. I find myself questioning the real importance of self-esteem and having friends since Shelly’s arrival. Miss. Bait got me. She got me good. She has unloaded this turtle before.

Shelly moved in the day before we left for vacation. Well now what in the hell are we going to do with this Godforsaken tortoise for ten days? Because I’ll be damned if we are taking this creature on the road. Luckily our neighbor, Senise, is an animal lover and volunteered to take Shelly for us. I knew Shelly was in good hands and didn’t think of her once the entire trip. But then we got home and back to the reality of caring for a herbivore. It’s not nearly as fun as it sounds.

Shelly made herself comfy right there on the dining room table. The kids were so excited. For about the first ten minutes. About nine minutes and sixty seconds longer than I was excited. I bought a head of lettuce and threw her some leaves every now and again. But then came bath day. I’m out. I wipe enough butts, thankyouverymuch. You see, Shelly the turtle takes care of business only once a week while in a container of water. What a lady. Sounds like a job for Beau.

Like everything that happens in my life, I will consider this a lesson learned. The next time my phone rings and it shows a school number, I will ignore the call like it’s the people from VISA. If it’s a real emergency they will call one of the other ten numbers on the list. I just hope Shelly lives to see the first day of school. I wonder what kind of self-esteem my son would have from carrying back an empty box that read RIP Shelly? Let’s just hope we don’t have to find out.

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