A boy and a turtle

One reason that I get sad sometimes is because my son is 14.

Fourteen and too big and grown for a mother, or at least that’s what he tells me these days.

I see him once a week if I’m lucky.

“Mom, can we skip this week? I’m really busy,” he informs me.

I usually say it’s okay because I don’t want to ruffle his feathers anymore than they already are. These days he’s like a peacock having a really bad hair day.

I get him every other weekend, but that too is subject to the whims of a 14-year-old boy.

When he was 13, he went to live with his father. I agreed to this new arrangement, knowing that if I held onto him too hard I would lose him for good.

Turtle crossing roadHe came home this weekend. One of the highlights occurred when we spotted a turtle in the middle of the road.

“Mom, pull over!” he shouted. “I have to save him.”

It had been a long time since I had seen him this excited.

I pulled to the side of the road and put on my hazards.

“Be careful crossing the street,” I said, unable to silence my inner mother.

He was. He was 14 after all. He picked up the turtle by the shell, carried it back to the car and placed it inside an orange bucket.

I have been carrying this just-in-case bucket in the trunk of my car ever since he was a little boy. There have always been frogs and toads and turtles and other creatures that have unexpectantly come into his life. The bucket has come in handy more times than I can enumerate.

I believe in animal totems among other things and tried to explain to my son how the turtle carried a message for him, for us.

He looked at me like I was crazy.

“Mom, we’ve lost you,” he said in a sarcastic voice that only a 14-year-old can master.

I knew not to protest. Not to try to explain the turtle sighting anymore.

But I also knew in my heart that the turtle was my sign to proceed cautiously and slowly and to have faith that in the end both of us would get to where we need to go.

* * *

From my writer’s group session today. Prompt: One reason that I get sad sometimes is because ________________.

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7 responses to “A boy and a turtle

  1. Turtles speak to me too. I pull them out of the road, at least a dozen each year. But I don’t put them in buckets, I just put them in the ditch or stream next to the road. I even carry gloves in my trunk, in case I need to pick up a big snapping turtle.

    After many years of doing this, I have turtle memories almost everywhere that I go.

    Keep reminding your son that he is sharing a unique experience with these creatures. Opportunities to be compassionate to other beings are put before us for a reason.

    • We transferred him from the bucket to a creek down the road. He swam off rather enthusiastically and happily.

      My son has always been compassionate to animals. It’s the being compassionate to human animals that he needs to be reminded of.

  2. as long as you keep the communication open and always let him know that he is welcome to talk about anything, he will be back.

  3. What a poignant post. My son is 15. I can totally relate…

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