In case you were wondering, yes, I am apparently the type of person who now has a rescue turtle.
A few days ago our four-year-old, Jacob, came running into the house to show me something that his little brother, Bennett, had found in the yard. I wasn’t really paying attention at first because usually when one of them comes running inside, full of excitement, to show me something it turns out to be a broken acorn or a sliver of plastic. I am pretty jaded, but such is life. So needless to say, when it finally registered that yes, he was holding a turtle, and yes, it was alive, I panicked more than a little.
“Oh my god! It’s a turtle,” I exclaimed appropriately, my hands fluttering with excitement and masculinity.
The turtle was quite small as turtles go. I don’t know if that’s true really. I don’t know much about turtles or anything else. But it was objectively small. About the size of dollar coin maybe? That should really paint the picture for you. Particularly if you live in the 1930s or have otherwise seen a dollar coin for some reason. If that doesn’t work, here is an actual picture. Just for your reference, so you can better appreciate his size, the leaves the turtle is sitting on are normal-sized leaves from some sort of tree.
Anyway, the take home point is that we now had a small turtle on our hands (sometimes literally). What exactly were we supposed to do next? Luckily, Jacob had some ideas.
J: “He needs water so he won’t die.”
Me: “Yes, good point.”
J: “I think he wants to have a party. A birthday party.”
**I should note here, just to provide some possible context, we had attended a birthday party the day before.**
Me: “Yeeeah, maybe. What kind of birthday party do you think he’d want?”
J: “Maybe a party by himself.”
Me: “That actually sounds amazing. Maybe he could kick back on his chaise lounge with a fluffy blanket covering his legs, a hot latte in hand, a couple squares of dark chocolate nearby and just read a book of David Sedaris essays while a light rain patters on the rooftop.”
J: “Are you talking about the turtle or you?”
Me: “Oh right. That sounds more like me. But maybe we can put him in a box or something.”
So we put him in a cardboard box and proceeded to stuff it with leaves, dirt, sticks, some carrots, and a dish of water. Later that day, I made a quick trip to the pet store and purchased him a proper home.
I don’t claim to be a turtle psychologist, but he seems to be settling in nicely. Sure, he is a bit of a melancholy animal, but that makes me like him even more. We forged an instant connection because of our like mindedness. And thus, I am a bit protective. For example, I’ve found that I sometimes say things that make a lot of sense such as, “Stop messing with him! We didn’t get a turtle so you could mess with him!”
While we were admiring him later and trying to stop Bennett from sitting on him, Jacob had some more questions.
J: “I wonder where he came from. I think he might've come from another planet with a lot of water.”
Me: “Hmm. That's frankly not what I would've gone with as a first option, but I guess it can't be ruled out.”
J: “Yes. From outer space. And he was dropped onto earth.”
Me: “I mean, if you want to ride with that, OK.”
J: “Bennett thinks that he's a Ninja Turtle. Wait....”
4 y.o.: “We can get him a very small mask at the store! He will love us. He will give us a big hug.”
Oh man, Yertle is already just like a member of the family; the spirited repartee he participates in is pretty classic. I think that is his name, by the way. Yertle. It hasn’t been officially determined yet, but that is my preference for obvious reasons. Those reasons being that it rhymes with turtle and has a strong literary heritage. I’m not saying I would be devastated if we were forced to change his name, like if we found out he already had another name or Jacob makes us, but Yertle is what I call him when we sit up late at night gazing into each other’s eyes through the plexiglass walls of his house having deep discussions, so I think we’re both kind of used to it by now.
No matter how it all turns out though, I think you’ll be hearing more about Yertle in the coming weeks and months. If you don’t, then you can probably deduce what happened. It would be some level of tragic and would likely involve a two-year-old’s misstep or unexpected stumble. That or we just let him go or something. I honestly can’t bear to think of it.