Hamburger is our resident turtle. Three years ago, at our local town celebration, he was disqualified from the turtle race for being a water turtle. Discrimination hurts, even when you’re a turtle, so we took pity on the little guy (the boys begged for him), and we brought him home in a styrofoam hamburger box. (Ahh yes, now the name makes sense, eh?)
I’ll be the first to admit, I thought turtles must be insanely boring pets. But I was so wrong. He has been so interesting to watch, he interacts with us when we come to his tank, and he eats out of our hands. Hamburger has singlehandedly (do turtles have hands?) turned us into a family of turtle lovers. Which brings me to the story of the day.
Last week, we took a break from cleaning and working to make a Sonic run. If you’re not familiar with Sonic, I’m sorry. But it’s probably best that you don’t know what you’re missing. If you are familiar with it, you know that sometimes you just have to drop everything for a cherry limeade and some chili-cheese tots. So we got our order and headed to the nearby park to eat in the shade.
As soon as we pulled in, my 6-year-old, Dex, spotted something on the tennis court. He swore it was a huge turtle. I gave a quick glance, assured him it must be a leaf or some garbage and didn’t give it a second thought. But Dex didn’t let it go. Pretty soon he yelled, “MOM! It moved! I told you it was a turtle!!” I looked again, and sure enough, he was right. Maybe I didn’t want him to be right because it was 102 degrees, the turtle was trapped inside a fence, and the pond was on the other side of the park. I knew if he was right, I was going to have to rescue the thing.
But right he was. The boys immediately wanted to get out, and I immediately said no. Turtles carry germs, and if you tangle with the wrong kind in Oklahoma, you just might lose a finger. A million reasons swirled through my head, and then my own words came back to haunt me…”Why not?”
So we piled out of the car and went to investigate. Sure enough, it was one massive turtle. And to top it all off, it was a massive version of Hamburger himself. The boys knew he wouldn’t survive in the heat and they went into hero mode. They grabbed an empty box from the car, I held it while Dex slid the turtle in, we loaded him up and headed for the pond. The ridiculously fearless Canadian geese greeted me as I searched for a spot to drop him off, but I kept my composure and made my way to the shore. I gently dumped the turtle out where he’d be facing the water and it took him no more than 2 seconds to realize where he was and dive right in.
The boys erupted into cheers, squealing that they had saved a life. They were heroes in that moment, and nothing could wipe the grins off of their faces. They raced back to the car, eager to get home and tell the Canadian what they had done. It was a blast.
And totally worth every drop of hand sanitizer I coated them with afterward.