During the summer of 2009 our two oldest daughters went away to camp for a week. Our son, who was 5 at the time, really wanted to go to camp, as well. We found a day camp for him to go to, I printed off the registration form and budgeted in the fee for the month of July.
That's as far as I got with that process. I figured that out the day before the day camp was supposed to start. Registration was, of course, closed. Guess who got to break that news to the little guy? There were tears. Lots of them. So many that my husband said, "Well, would you like to go get a turtle?"
What? My husband is not a pet guy. Really. I am not sure if he knows our dogs' names.
We had budgeted that money, so I agreed. Lee called to find out how much turtles were at our local pet store, and off we went.
We came out with an African side-necked turtle, an aquarium that takes up half of my kitchen counter, a filter, a heat lamp, and a UV lamp. We went a little outside of our proposed budget. We call him Big Turtle.
Fast forward two years. I notice when I am cleaning the tank ( oh, yeah, Mama cleans up after Big Turtle, too) that Turtle is pink. I don't think that's healthy, but he's still eating so, whatever. At a pet food run I ask the manager about Turtle's pink hue, and she says it might be septicemia.
I then proceed to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I take the turtle to the vet.
Oh, yes. I took Big Turtle to the vet. I mean, we have a bit of cash invested in this guy, and he does hang out with me when I'm making coffee and doing the dishes. The vet was nice, and told me they would call me when they knew what was going on.
I was chatting with some homeschool moms at our co-op when they called. I was embarrassed to tell them that I had to take the call. I actually think they thought I was kidding. I mean, who takes a turtle to the vet?
The vet lays on the news that yes, it is septicemia and that if I want Big Turtle to make it he is going to have to receive antibiotic injections every day for two weeks. Here's the kicker: there's only a 50% chance that this will actually work.
It seems like a no brainer to me. Turtle's gonna have to die. I need shoes, the kids need shoes, etc... I break the news to the kids in the car on the way home from co-op. Gently, of course. It went something like this.
"Turtle's not going to make it, I'm afraid." Lots of crying.
I explained that turtle is just a turtle and that for the $30 it will cost to get his injections we could feed a family in Africa for a month.
"So we're just going to watch Turtle die, Mom?" Spencer asked.
I joked about having turtle soup. I mean, these are the lessons that the kids need to learn, right? We have to make hard choices in this world. Choices that sometimes cost turtles their lives. It's not pleasant or pretty, but it is the harsh reality. This is when it's hard to be a parent. This is where the weak back down. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do that hard thing, right? What kind of an idiot would inject their turtle with antibiotics?