Kids snap up the lessons of life

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Late last year, I caught a very small alligator snapping turtle who was trapped in the middle of the highway, severely dehydrated and near death. This snapping turtle was no bigger than my hand, but mean as a snake.

I took him home, placed him in a small wading pool and filled the middle up with sand so he would have a beach to rest on. I then fed him raw meat, which he gobbled up without hesitation.

As might be expected, the little 6-year-old tsunami boy was immediately enthralled by this creature. The little boy would make an excellent case study for split personality, given that he is filled with compassion on one hand and on the other hand lives for mayhem and destruction.

He delighted in watching the snapping turtle devour anything fed to him. Soon, he had named the turtle Killer.

I only intended to stabilize the turtle and then set him free, but I kept him a few weeks longer than intended so the little boy could enjoy the spectacle. After having had the turtle for about a month, one morning I walked out in the yard and discovered that Fathead, my Rottweiler, had engaged in a fight with a possum the night before. Unfortunately, for the possum, she came out on the losing end and was found dead in the yard.

Fathead did not appear any worse the wear and was strutting around quite proud about his conquest. When I went to move the dead possum's body, however, I discovered a rather depressing sight. The possum had just given birth and had three very small possums squirming around beside the body on the ground.

These little creatures were completely hairless, pink and looked sort of like a ground mole. Now just in case you aren't aware, a possum is pretty doggone ugly full grown. These babies were down right scary ugly. You know, like Nancy Pelosi.

Anyway, the little 7-year-old girl saw the little creatures, and being an empathetic creature, she demanded we try to bottle-feed the baby possums. I already knew this was a futile effort, but to appease the little girl we placed the little babies in a basket, kept them warm, read on Internet the mixture to feed a baby possum and tried to salvage them.

It soon became apparent the effort would not be successful and I explained to the little girl, and little boy, that the possums would not survive.

Immediately, the little boy began to cry because in his words, "I don't want the baby possums to die." I explained that sometimes that's just the way things are and we had done all we could, etc., in hopes I would soothe his hurt feelings.

He then dried his eyes, looked at me with great excitement in his eyes, and said, "Well, if they aren't going to make it, can I feed them to Killer?"

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would have been proud.

Last week the whole family -- the little girl, the little, boy, mama and I -- went to the ball field so that they could practice t-ball and softball. The little boy has just learned to throw overhand and, for a 6-year-old, I'd say he has a pretty good arm. We also brought along Levi, the 10-pound rat terrier, to enjoy the festivities.

The little boy throws a pretty mean fast ball, but I can't say a whole lot about his accuracy. On about the third toss, he threw a ball hard almost 90 degrees away from his body and it struck Levi directly in the head. Knocked him out. It looked like George Foreman working on Joe Frazier's head.

I thought the dog was dead.

The little boy broke out into hysterics that he had killed Levi. Luckily, in a few minutes, Levi arose and began to stagger crossways. Soon he was fine.

The little boy then said, "I threw that pretty hard, didn't I, Daddy? It almost killed Levi, a little harder and it would have."

Yeah, and before it's over he will probably kill me.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.