Learning Life's Lessons

The kids have been asking for a pet for a while. A cat? We go to the lake too much. A fish? They don’t last. A bird? Too messy. A dog? Oh gosh, even Joe has jumped on the dog bandwagon.

Fortunately I’ve managed to avoid the commitment to a pet… so far. But a couple of weeks ago we did take in a new Pannkuk for a brief stay… the smallest, cutest turtle we’ve ever seen. We called him Teeny. The girls came up with that one on their own. It happened kind of like this…

We were up at the cabin, taking care of some long overdue tasks like planting the flower beds and weeding the garden. We always warn the girls to be careful and watch their step around the plants. So when Autumn screamed at me to freeze, I froze. I figured I was about to crush a hosta or smush a trilium.

She ran over and picked up a turtle from right under my foot. Of course she asked if we could keep it. Then her sister wanted to find one too. My afternoon of being productive and checking things off my list turned into making sure Teeny had sufficient accommodations and looking for his twin so Afton could have the “Tiny” to go with Autumn’s “Teeny.”

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, depending on your perspective, no Tiny emerged so the girls had to take turns with the newest member of the family, Teeny the Turtle. He made it back to Lakeville with us where he took up residence in a rubber bin.

The girls loved watching him scoot around. He entertained them for hours. But, as we know, turtles aren’t necessarily meant to live in rubber bins on kitchen counters. So when we were up at the lake again last weekend we brought Teeny along. Joe and I gently nudged the girls to the realization that Teeny would be happiest living in the lake. It was fun having him visit for a while but he needed to get back to nature, back where he belonged.

And then my girls did something that surprised me. In a moment of great maturity, Autumn took Afton aside. They sat on the grass with Teeny the turtle in between them and Autumn told her sister they should be okay with releasing him so that he can go back to be with his real family. Afton nodded her little head, eyes full of tears and responded, “I guess he will not be part of our family anymore.”

It almost broke my heart to see them share such a sweet, tender moment. Sometimes life teaches us lessons in the most unexpected ways. Like how to let go for the greater good. Even if it’s hard. Even if it hurts. Even if it’s only a turtle.

So we’ve gone from no pet to a temporary pet to no pet again and I’m counting my blessings. I’ve still managed to sidestep the pleas for a dog. Wonder how long that will last…