I recently missed out on a chance to chaperone a school field trip for my Little Man, but talking about it with the other parents put me in a bit of a nostalgic mood that suddenly reminded me of one of my more memorable mommy moments.

My oldest son, The Dark Prince, was in first grade.  I had signed up to help chaperone a trip to the zoo, and this particular child of mine has always loved going to zoos, so I was very excited.  When we arrived, however, I noticed a  . . . sound.

At first, I thought it was construction equipment of some sort.  Then I thought that perhaps it was some sort of animal in pain, but I thought the noise was too rhythmic to be an animal.  It was somewhere between a groan and a grunt, and it was loud.  Very loud.  It was almost familiar, and yet . . . strange.

For the record, I’d like to mention the fact that I had never really put much thought into the reproductive habits of the Giant Tortoise before that day.  But I am here to tell you that they do it loudly.  And enthusiastically. And it takes them a long time to finish.

By the time I realized where the noise was coming from, my child and I were staring at two very happy, horny Tortoises humping away as if their lives depended upon it.  We were surrounded by other open-mouthed parents and children, gazing in horrified wonder but unable to look away.  One of the other parents finally ventured an opinion that perhaps the Tortoises were fighting and we should leave them to fight it out in private.  That theory spread quickly, and it seemed that the need for an emergency Sex-Ed course had been narrowly averted.

But nobody bargained on my son voicing an opinion.

“Mom,” he said slowly. “Mom, I don’t think those turtles are fighting, are they?”

What could I say?  The child had spent enough time around the cows at his grandmother’s place to understand a bit about baby animals and how they are made.  He was suspicious, and he expected me to tell him the truth.

“No, Honey, they’re not,” I told him.  “You know how sometimes Mommy and Daddy hold hands?  Or sometimes you walk into the room and catch us kissing? Well, that’s pretty much all that’s going on here.  Those big Tortoises are just cuddling in their own way, just showing each other how much they love each other.”

Not bad, right?  I was cheering inwardly, congratulating myself on being a great parent.  Outstanding, right?  I was so proud of the way I had handled the question with honesty in the most age-appropriate terms I could have used.

But as I said, nobody bargained on my son.

He understood what I said.  Understood it a little too well.  He turned to his friends and made an announcement at the top of his little lungs.  “My mom just told me what those turtles are doing!” he called out to everyone at the zoo (or so it seemed).  “I know exactly what they are doing right now, and it’s nothing to worry about.  My mom and dad do it all the time.”

I think we all know why I haven’t been asked back to chaperone in many, many years.

Author: A.J. Goode

I am a romance novelist, single mother of three, and a high school lunchlady. To be completely honest, I have no idea which of those jobs is the most rewarding and which is the biggest challenge. I love them all. I write romance novels about the kind of people who might pass me on the street every day. My characters are often hurting in some way, and need to learn to trust others in order to heal themselves. I also blog about trying to focus on writing, and about my day-to-day experiences in small-town America. I write about life. The good, the bad, and the just plain odd.

2 thoughts on “Half-Shell”

  1. Oh too funny. I applaud your response. It reminds me of our visit to the Honolulu zoo when my two were five and six. We came upon two turtles engaged in the very same activity. As did another mother and her son. The latter asked his mom what the turtles were doing and she replied “playing leap frog …”


    1. I’ll bet her answer didn’t cause as much trouble as mine did! Lol …

      Seriously, I just assumed turtles sort of . . . I don’t know what I assumed, but I certainly never imagined they’d be so loud about it.


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