Marlin Perkins is turning in his grave

By Mir
May 11, 2005

Today at school, one of the kids found a painted turtle over by the playground fence. It was just a baby—about the size of a half dollar. When I arrived to pick up the kids, everyone was clustered around the bucket containing the wee, irate turtle. It kept trying to climb the plastic sides and sliding down and starting over again. The capturer’s mother had arrived and agreed to bring it home and try to raise it.

“No fair!” hmphed Chickadee. “How come HE gets to keep the turtle?”

“Because HE found it,” I answered. Then I grinned at one of the teachers and added, “and also because his mom is a lot nicer than yours.”

“Well THAT’S for sure,” she grumped.

You’re not supposed to agree with your mother when she cracks a joke about how mean she is, you know. No good can come of that.

Unable to stop myself—even as I realized that the kids were hearing nothing but WAH WAH WAH ala Charlie Brown’s teacher—I launched into a lecture on the way to the car about how animals are best off in their natural habitat. That turtle was very cute, yes, but he was SO LITTLE and did either of them have any idea how to take care of a baby turtle? Or what a turtle eats? No? Me either. It’s not a kitten, you know. What if the turtle’s mommy was right around the corner and looking for him right now? Etc.

As I turned the car towards home I realized I now wanted a “positive wildlife experience” to counterbalance this… and preferrably before either of the kids could think to ask if the baby turtle was going to eat catfood and then die.

I had a lightbulb moment: Yesterday I’d noticed the geese had returned to a tiny pond on our route home. I was fairly certain I’d seen at least half a dozen fuzzy goslings at the water’s edge. Perfect!

Me: Hey, guys! I want to show you something on the way home.
Both: What? What is it, Mama? WHAT?
Chickadee: Are we getting ice cream?
Monkey: Is it another turtle??
Me: Heh… ummm… no. And no. It’s an animal thing, though.
Chickadee: Are we getting a dog???
Monkey: I don’t like it when dogs try to lick me.
Me: NO! Stop. Okay. Quiz time! What do some animals do in the winter?
Monkey: Hibernate!
Chickadee: Go to the north pole!
*much giggling*
Me: Wait, WHERE do they go, Chickie?
Chickadee: TO SEE SANTA! *hysterics*
Me: Monkey, where do some of the birds go?
Monkey: OH! FLORIDA!
Me: Uhhh… yeah. Okay. They go south. Maybe to Florida. So then what happens in the spring?
Monkey: No no! They come BACK!
Me: Good, Monkey! They come back in the spring! And THEN what do they do?
Monkey: EAT FRENCH FRIES! *hysterics*
Chickadee: WEAR HATS! *hysterics*
Me: C’mon, guys.
Chickadee: They HATCH BABIES!
Chickadee: Oh! Did you see baby birds?
Monkey: Can we get one??
Me: Okay, look out Monkey’s window.
*Much to the chagrin of the cars behind me, I slowed down at the pond, just in time for us to see Mama and Papa Goose leading their offspring up onto the bank. And there was much oohing and aahing.*
Chickadee: Awwww, they’re so cute and fuzzy.
Monkey: Well I wanted a turtle.
Chickadee: Maybe when they grow up, they’ll EAT turtles.
Monkey: NO!
Chickadee: YES!
Monkey: NOOOOOO!
Me: OH LOOK WE’RE HOME. No more nature! Everyone inside!


  1. Susan

    That was a good way to do it. When I had some baby frogs from the creek in a old whipped margarine plastic container, my dad said, do you want them to live in thier own pee, poop and throw up? He stopped, I got out, and let them go back into the creek. In my day and age guilt worked wonders. Worked so good I can feel guilty for any thing now. I gotta use it more on my kids.

  2. dave

    “wear hats”? That’s exactly what I would have said. Maybe “do a song and dance.”

  3. vicki

    WONDERFUL post. I loved this little nature lesson story. Thanks.

  4. ben

    Trying to decide on my favorite line. Is it “Go to the beach?” or “Eat french fries!”

    Kids are great, aren’t they?

    And this is exactly the turn the conversation would have made at our house:

    Monkey: Well I wanted a turtle.
    Chickadee: Maybe when they grow up, they’ll EAT turtles.

  5. Cori

    What a great way to “attempt” to turn the situation around. Isn’t it frustrating when kids are determined to thwart us at every turn? :)

  6. dad

    I love it when your mood swings through the hilarious zone and you make me fall down laughing.

  7. Beth

    Wait a minute, who painted the turtle? I think whoever took the time to paint it should get to keep it.

  8. Courtney

    That’s funny. I love the layout of your blog. Never seen one quite like it.

  9. Carrie

    Funny, in a first grade class I just subbed in they dealt with this same issue. They read a book called The Salamander Room that really illustrated why animals needed to be in their natural habitats. It was cute and the kids all loved it. Not sure if they totally got the message.

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