As a parent, you will do just about anything to see your child smile. We sit through endless hours of dance lessons, cub scout meetings, soccer practices, and choir concerts. We pick out kid-friendly meals, buy over-priced Hollister shirts, and drive our kids to and from friends’ houses every weekend. It’s a small price to pay for the smiles that light up our kids’ faces.
I always said that I would draw the line with pets, specifically reptiles. But, I’m a sucker for smiles and so I caved – resulting in Dirty Terry.
It all began late last December. We had already gathered a wish list of action figures, Nintendo DS games, and iPod songs from my son, but as every parent knows, a last minute wish always comes to light days before Christmas. I will never forget my son’s expression when he sat on Santa’s lap and promptly said, “I want a turtle.”
Shocked, I wasn’t sure how to let him down easy. I’m not the type of parent who believes that kids should have everything they wish for, but one look in his eyes told me that this was “the wish” for the holiday season.
The story traveled fast through the family and soon enough, with my reluctant permission, his grandmother purchased Dirty Terry.
Dirty Terry came with a giant tank, a landing rock, a filter, and a smell out of this world. But, more importantly, Dirty Terry brought a giant smile to my son’s face.
For the past 10 months, Dirty Terry, one of the messiest creatures alive, has slept and swam right next to my son’s bed. When Joel goes to sleep, he tells Terry goodnight. When he wakes up, he talks to Terry, turns on his heat lamp, and feeds him pebbles.
While I may gripe and groan about the 2-hour task of cleaning the tank and the overpriced filter we just purchased, I still cave every time I see my son smile at his pet turtle. It brings tears to my eyes every time.
I held back the tears, though, until I recently learned that turtles typically live for 30 years. A child smiles. A parent cries.
– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Oct. 9, 2009
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