I voted a resounding “NO!” when the kids wanted to bring home a turtle. I’m tired of short-term pets and the trauma they leave behind when they go on to glory.
The boys, determined that it was time for another “inside” pet, continued to beg, cajole, and just downright plead for this little-bitty turtle. I gave in on one condition. I got to name the little guy. Smurtle has now been part of our family for a whopping three months!
The good news is, he hasn’t offered to pass on to greater places yet. The bad news. . .he stinks.
And, on car rides to the beach, he seriously stinks. (It doesn’t matter if you wash him and his habitat daily, he still stinks.)
We took the boys (and Smurtle) to the beach this weekend with plans of chasing a few waves and doing a whole lot of nothing. At my husband’s request, the alligator farm and a few restaurants were on our list, but, for the most part, we were going to get in some serious beach time.
We went to our favorite family-friendly beach that we’ve visited numerous times over the last 20 years only to find that it isn’t as family-friendly as it used to be. I had to explain several things to my eight-year old that I hadn’t wanted to explain until he was much, much older. And I had to ask him to shield his eyes several times. Thank goodness we have already explained to him that we keep things from him because we want his mind to be pure. (I really don’t think he likes this, but, for now, he turns away from things we don’t want him to see.)
I guess the shocking part of this weekend was the alcohol on the beach at 10 a.m., t-shirts high-school-aged young men were wearing with their mothers standing beside them, and the suggestive advertising that surrounded us while we were there. We didn’t see this there even two years ago. Where did it come from?
Are we shielding our kids from reality? Absolutely. Are we keeping them from the truth of the world? You betcha!
God gave us one chance with each of these two boys. We aren’t perfect parents, by any stretch of the imagination, but we do our best to protect them. When we pray for them, we pray for physical and mental strength and purity. We pray that they will desire God first and will put the sometimes ugliness of this world behind them.
And when we go to the beach, we look at God’s creation, the waves, hermit crabs, seaweed, and “brand new” fish that have just hatched. We thank God for the wonders of this world while we shield our children from what we humans have done to it.
And, we take the stinky turtle with us.
by Heather Keller
Children's Ministry Consultant, WMU