Monday, February 15, 2010

Turtle Boy

My sister's kid loves candy, he loves being thrown in the air, he loves monsters, he loves CARS and ICE AGE, he loves throwing balls, he loves pretzels, he loves to run, to swordfight, to kick the people around him in the Planters, to squeal at inopportune moments (like during church or when others are napping or in the middle of a bris), he loves those CapriSun juice packets, but more than any of these . . . he loves turtles.

It's strange how completely and utterly obsessed he is with turtles. The way that I was so into frogs as a kid that in my thirties, I still dream about them at least monthly, the newly-turned-two year old simply adores turtles.I see the kid a lot, actually. Part of the reason is that I am a free babysitter and my sister needs all the financial help she can get, but another reason is the hard-to-define pleasure I get out of being around this lad. I know it's not love, since my friend Merrill has said on three different occasions (each a bit more grating than the last) that a person doesn't know what love is until they've had a child of their own, and uncledom just don't cut it, but it's something pretty interesting. And it doesn't help that the boy is WAY cooler than your kids, if you have them.

Even so, it can get really tiring to have the boy constantly pestering me about the turtles. Literally from the moment he arrives (sometimes before I've even gotten him out of the car seat) he starts in on the turtles, wanting to play with them, wanting to feed them, wanting to wash them, wanting to change their water, wanting to throw them, wanting to put them in the fishtank, wanting to stack them on one another like blocks, wanting to sit in the bathtub with them (the last time I allowed this, he covered them with shampoo, which I figured would not brighten their shells), or rambling about how the big one bit him once.*

I used to monitor him with the animals, sure, but I don't have the focus or dedication to be a lifeguard at a wading pool, much less a parent. So he usually ends up playing with the turtles unsupervised.

Oh, I try to lay down boundaries or limits, such as he has to clean up his toys, or eat all his food, or allow me to finish pressing sewing needles into the crotch of my Glenn Beck voodoo doll before he gets to play with them. But I amn't exactly the world's greatest babysitter (as I really ought to blog about someday), so I invariably give him one or all just to keep him from bothering me. This has come back to bite me (though not literally) on more than one occasion, and this week was definitely the craziest.

I gave said child the big turtle to carry around the house while I went to my computer to type or surf or edit or ogle or email or basically do anything except write stories, when from the kitchen, I heard a beep . . . the unmistakable sound of the microwave having its buttons pushed. "What the fu--" I either thought or said as I rose to my feet and entered the kitchen. The child had put the turtle in the microwave, and was trying his best to start it up.

Well, I wrenched the door open and scooped the animal out, unsure of how much damage had been done. The light inside the microwave had been on, I know that much for sure, and that only happens when the door is open or it's running.

I put the turtle back in the bowl, and the boy immediately started crying to hold it again, but I was adamant that he never touch one of the poor animals again.

Of course, the next morning, the turtle seemed none the worse for wear, so it either never got zapped, or animals can stand one or two seconds of microwave bombardment.

Like most experiences with the boy, when I told others about it, they thought it was funny (I believe my sadistic cousin Ryan expressed disappointment the turtle hadn't exploded like a Gremlin), and of course, the next time I see my nephew, he'll have free reign with the little reptiles.Ah well, could be worse. Could be frogs.

Rish Salamander Outfield

*This sort of thing tends to happen when you jam your little finger violently into an animal's head. But crazily, even though he daily reminds me of the incident, it's the big turtle the boy always wants to play with first.

1 comment:

ryanlb said...

That is simply not true, I didn't want the turtle to explode, I like turtles well enough.

I believe I told you a story about a long ago coworker who, as a child, put her kitten in the microwave to dry it off once, giving it brain damage and forever after stunting its growth.