“Can I keep him, Mommy?”
“What are you going to do with him?” Mother said as she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
Little JoAnne thought for a moment. “I can teach him tricks.”
“Oh. You’re going to teach him tricks. What kind of tricks?”
Her worried, huge brown eyes searched the kitchen floor. She raised her head and her face brightened. Mother saw the light bulb appear above her daughter’s head.
“I can teach him to roll over.”
“Roll over, now,” Mother exclaimed. “Wow. that would be quite a trick for him to do.”
“Well, I’ve see’d them get rolled over on TV. So, I know’d they can roll over.”
Mother beamed a smile into her little girl’s face. “What else do you want to teach him?”
JoAnne screwed up her face as she contemplated. “How ’bout we teach him to sit?”
“We?” she said. “Oh, now you want my help.”
“Please, Mommy? I think it’ll be so much more funer if you help.”
“Oh, I don’t know. He’s your pet, Jo. I think you should take full responsibility for him. I mean, you are four years old and a big girl now.” Mother explained. “You teach him to sit. Can you teach him to speak?”
“We can try.
“No, no. There is no ‘we’. This is going to be all you. You train him, you feed him, you make sure he gets enough water and sleep.”
“Mommy, sleep is not a problem. He can sleep in my bed with me at night.”
“You know, Little Bit, animals need more sleep than humans. They have to find a comfortable place to sleep in all the time all day long. Can you provide that for him?”
“How ’bout I put him on a extra pillow?”
“That would work out just fine. Where is one, by-the-way?”
There was a hesitation. But she finally said; “We can go to the Starvation Army Store and get one!”
“Don’t you mean Salvation Army?”
“Oh. I guess I do. Can we go there and get a pillow?”
“After lunch,” Mother said as she placed the sandwich on the table with a tall glass of milk. “But for now, go wash your hands and face. You have been handling an animal and they have germs.”
“Mother, why are so icky about germs. You act like they can hurt you. They’re just tiny little thing too small to hurt anyone. Don’t worry so much about germs.”
“Okay, Baby. Now go wash up like a good girl.”
JoAnne dashed out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. She dampened her face and hands with cold water and returned to her mother. She proudly held out her hands for her mother to see.
Mother turned her hands over to see both sides. “Hmmm. Did you use warm water?” JoAnne lowered her head feeling ashamed. “Is the soap still dry also?”
“Yes, Mommy,” she responded sadly.
“Honey, you know better than that. Now go wash up like you’re supposed to.”
She left dragging the toes of her shoes across the floor making a stuttering sound as they moved.
“None of that, missy. Now pick up your feet when you walk.” JoAnne did. But it didn’t make her feel any different.
When she came back to the table, JoAnne sat at the chair with the sandwich.
“Wait a minute, missy.” Mother checked the temperature of her hands. She could tell they were washed with warm water. “Okay. I hope you enjoy your lunch.”
JoAnne bit into her sandwich with a bit more energy. After a few bites, Mother asked;
“What do you want to name your new pet?”
JoAnne washed down her mouthful of peanut butter and jelly with a gulp of milk. “I think his name should be Tommy,” she proclaimed proudly.
“Tommy. Why Tommy?”
“Because, Mommy, it goes best with what he is. Tommy Turtle. That’s his name. Tommy Turtle.”