Wednesday 7 January 2015


I have a vague memory of having animals in the class when I was in grade school. Not large carnivores, but generally tiny, cute little animals that we as a class would look after. Things like hamsters, budgies, rabbits, fish and turtles. We would all take turns feeding and looking after the animals. The classes were large enough that any one kid would only be responsible for the animal a day a month. Some kids took their duties very seriously, measuring out just the right amount of food and making sure that the animal had plenty of water. Other kids would just sprinkle in some of the gross smelling food and go back to looking out the window, if they remembered at all.
Everyone wanted to be able to take the animal home for the holidays so they could have a week or so at Christmas and Easter and the big prize was to take the animal home for the summer. I wasn’t any different than the other kids, but my dad had a dislike for animals of all kinds. To be fair, I think the animals didn’t like dad very much either. Every time I would come home with a mimeographed sheet telling of the responsibilities involved in looking after the class pet, dad would take one look at it and say “NO!” I’m sure it was for the best, I had little respect for animal life back then.

One class I was in had a turtle of all things. I don’t know if you have ever been friendly with a turtle, but they don’t do anything at all. Whenever this turtle would move, it was cause for the whole class to rush over and watch it take three or four steps. It would then stop and do some more nothing. I don’t think I ever saw it eat any of the food we left for it. The teacher told us tales of how a turtle can get to be hundreds of years old and three or four feet around, weighing hundreds of pounds. The turtle we had in class was maybe an inch and a half in diameter and a good wind would blow it over.
I kept waiting for this turtle to get bigger. I knew it wouldn’t get to be the size of a paving stone, but I kind of wanted it to double in size over the year. It didn’t seem to grow at all. Looking back, it is possible that the class turtle died several times during the year and the teacher just replaced it. We wouldn’t have known if it were sleeping or dead, that’s how much it moved. I might have killed it myself. I took to feeding it pencil shavings when no one was looking, they were almost like the turtle food and I didn’t have to wait a month to feed this green lump.

All of the boys liked to put the turtle on its back whenever we got the chance. We had heard that a turtle couldn’t flip back over. Now, as I recall, this turtle did manage to right itself from time to time. Often the teacher would suspect wrong doing from the stares and giggles the turtle got.

For some reason, I have been seeing turtles in some of the TV show I have been watching this year. They aren’t the main character of course, but for inexplicably they have become the go to stupid television pet of the year. Maybe the writers of the shows had turtles in their classrooms when they were kids too.
This time of year also has commercials encouraging me to buy “Turtles” the chocolates with nuts and caramel. Don’t need to tell me twice! They are the same size and shape as those turtles in grade school, not green of course, but they are just about as active and more tasty.

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