If you have ever taken your kids into one of those beach souvenir shops, you know there are dangers all around. Once inside, you quickly change into Super Traffic Cop! You direct flow and setup barriers in an effort to avoid those items that want to grow your kids up too fast. You know the T-shirts and mugs I'm talking about. You heroically dart here and there protecting their eyes, trying diligently to escape any embarrassing questions. All the while, there is a hidden danger that is flanking you on both sides. It is lurking right before your eyes and you need to protect yourself.
I'm speaking of those adorable quarter-sized turtles swimming so happily in their aquariums. There are hundreds of them, all wearing their OD greens and preparing to attack. One glance and your kids are mesmerized. You too fix your eyes on the sprawling creatures and get lost in the sea of overlapping shells. Then you hear it. Those words uttered millions of times by your offspring. "Daddy, can I have one?" You mull it over for a few seconds, weighing the short term costs with the long term risks. You glance at your watch and think about all the caravaneers that are beating you to the interstate home. In a knee jerk response, you glance at the 88 cent sale sign and give your naive, head-nodding approval. Back in the car, you savor the smiles and hugs that come with the "Father of the Year" award that you have just received! In the back of your mind, you contemplate this new 3-month responsibility you just added to your plate and you're good with it.
... fast forward ...
Well, it turns out your little one picked a winner. Of the hundreds of tiny, armor-wearing bandits, your turtle is the rarest and healthiest. You have been cleaning her tank for five years now. You are on your 3rd tank and you swear she doubles her size the second she touches the new water. You have watched her grow and gladly forked over that hard earned money for all the necessary supplies. You have popped enough Advil for that sore back to keep the drug manufacturer in business. That trophy you received in the car those many years ago does not seem as shiny, but you persevere. Because you are unsure what the future holds, you contemplate an update to your will just so she will be taken care of along with your natural children. You fear no one (in there right mind) would sacrafice as you have sacraficed so many times. In your anxiety, you wonder about pet heaven.
I tried to have fun with this post, but do not miss what I am trying to say. Never... I mean never under estimate that visit to the souvenir shop. Protect yourself. To those avid turtle lovers out there that might be offended, please flame me so I know who to call when I need encouragement.