She seemed so tiny, about the size of a silver dollar, when we brought her home in the palm of our hands. We hadn’t prepared nearly enough, but we told ourselves that it couldn’t be that hard to raise a baby turtle.
Put it in the tank and watch it grow! Was there more to it than that?
Then we Googled it. The experts said we needed to add a heater, use a special feeding bowl, and keep the habitat tidy. It was a lot of work, especially for Mom.
When she was little, she made little messes.
When she got bigger, she made bigger messes.
This made mom a lot madder than she would ever admit. Soon, she had to clean the tank nearly every other day! No one else ever seemed to notice all the work that Mom did, which made mom really, really mad.
Was she raising a lazy, ungrateful slob inside those four walls?
As the turtle kept eating, she seemed to get more and more fed up, too. Sometimes she tried to climb out of her special feeding bowl when Mom turned her head. She tried to claw her way out of her cozy tank even after Mom had spent the afternoon cleaning it just so. Sometimes even at dinnertime that turtle would turn her head, looking disgusted, and say “I’m not hungry right now,” or “Is this all there is to eat?” or “I’m going back to my room.”
One day Mom decided it was time to put turtle in the backyard pond. Dad was upset, saying “But she’s still my precious little baby!”
We put her in the pond and expected her to be starved, eaten or lost. For weeks, turtle seemed to disappear entirely. I wasn’t surprised. In my heart of hearts, I never really believed she could make it on her own.
And then one day we saw turtle sunning herself on a rock in the middle of the water, already twice the size she’d been on the day she left home. When we tried to get close enough to take a picture, she dove back into the deep, her natural element, her true home, where she keeps her own secrets and dreams her own dreams.
That’s all there was to it.