We have this cool turtle named Scooter. We inherited him from the child care center that I directed for 17 years and where my boy was practically raised for 6 years, so there’s a lot of history between us. Scooter lives in a cage in our spare room, roaming around, eating meal worms and going for swims in his bowl of water. I keep his water spotlessly clean and keep track of when to feed him on a sticky note kept on the kitchen counter. We all talk to him as if he were human. The spare room is across from our bedroom, so many times a day, I see Scooter and tell him hello and what the plans for the day are. Even my husband, who is not really a pet person can be heard saying, “Scooty! What’s up?” Scooter is really a part of our family and has a pretty good turtle life with us.
On warm days, we take him out in the yard for exercise and fresh air. It’s still kind of cold here but Saturday was a little warmer than usual. Scooter was doing his turtle thing: trying like crazy to get out of his cage by scratching in the corner. I feel kind of bad when I see him do this and wanted to take him outside, but I was leaving for the market. I asked the boys ( my husband and son) if they would watch him. My husband kind of shrugged as if to say, “Sure, how hard can it be to watch a turtle?” I almost changed my mind at that point, but my son was beside himself with excitement at this responsibility. I couldn’t say no. I told him to put the turtle away when he was done watching him and went on my merry way.
What a mistake.
I was unloading the groceries when I casually asked who put the turtle away. Both boys froze. Of course, they had forgotten poor Scooter and had no clue where he was. Never trust boys.
We searched for Scooter until it was dark and finally had no choice but to leave him to spend the night who knows where. As I was cooking dinner, my boy would occasionally whimper and when I asked what was wrong, he’d say, “I miss Scooter!” I don’t think any of us slept very well that night.
The next morning, we resumed the search and quickly discovered where Scooter must be. There was a little turtle-sized hole where he must have burrowed under the wood platform that my husband built for the storage shed. When the sun started to set the previous night, he must have done what turtles do- burrow into some place close and safe. Great.
My husband pulled up the part of the platform that didn’t have the shed on it but, no Scooter. There were, however more little holes which told us that he was under the platform which was under the shed. Short of tearing down the shed, we could not reach him. So, my husband propped up the part of the platform that he could and … now we wait. Turtles are not dogs, running out to jump on you after you have rescued them from some tight spot. No, turtles LIKE tight spots. Scooter will take his own sweet time, coming out when he pleases. Yay.
In the meantime, we set water and food at each side of the platform, hoping he’ll get hungry and make his way out. Or stay right where he is, hibernating (as turtles do this time of year), until hotter days arrive.
Late yesterday, as I was nearly flat on the ground, peering under the platform:
Me: “Come out Scooter, please. We’re here for you, Man. Come out!”
The Boy: “Yeah, Scooter, come out. We miss you!”
Me: “Ya freakin’ turtle!”
The Boy: ” Well, Mom! You don’t have to be mean to him!”
O.K., PLEASE come out, ya freakin’ turtle!