An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Slow and steady

Thursday afternoon when I picked Leta up from school she came running out of the building with a little more lilt than usual. She was bounding, swinging her arms, and her smile rivaled the perfect curve of a circle. She jumped up into my arms without warning almost sending me to the ground, and I suddenly thought, wow. That was a perfect reenactment of a Mormon discovering coffee.

“Mom!” she shouted after we hugged. “I want a turtle!”

“You want a turtle,” I said matter of factly, my brain hanging on the irony that she was showing such enthusiasm for the world’s most boring creature. Is that mean? Did I offend the turtle people? COME ON. There’s that whole story about the turtle “racing” the hare, barely crawling it’s way to the finish line, and every time I hear it I’m like, good god, could someone please give that thing a Red Bull.

I got a little carried away by her enthusiasm, I’ll admit, and I ended up telling her that we could go look at turtles over the weekend. Mind you, I know nothing about them, only that I’ve heard about a species who live on the Galapagos Islands and live to be over a hundred years old. Can you imagine how boring it must be to walk around that slowly for over a hundred years? They probably hang out in bars and wallow in jealousy over their friends who were lucky, the ones who caught a disease and died in their sixties.

I did a tiny bit of research before we set out to the pet store on Saturday, meaning I asked Tyrant if he knew anything about turtles. I could have googled “pet turtle” but, you know, I’m not really into believing everything I read on the Internet these days.

“Oh, yuck,” he said. “Those things start to stink, and they live forever. Way too much work. Let’s just get chickens.”

Right. Because the smell of a chicken coop has been known to make men swoon.

Leta and I drove out to a specialty shop on Saturday afternoon where we could look at lizards and snakes and have some one-on-one cuddle time with actual turtles.

An employee walked us back to a room where we got to observe two small Russian tortoises, and he explained in detail their everyday upkeep. We’d have to feed him fruits and vegetables, frequently change out his water because he’d likely use it as a potty, and then we’d have to pick out his poop from the shavings at the bottom of the glass aquarium. OH! And he’ll probably live to be anywhere from 20-25 years old.

Leta didn’t hear a word of this, she was too transfixed by the mechanical movements of the tortoises as they climbed up and over each other.


I blinked loudly. “20 TO 25 years, Leta. EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 20 TO 25 YEARS. You’ll still be picking up its excrement IN COLLEGE.”

The employee sensed my skepticism and excused himself so that we could discuss this long-term commitment to another creature’s feces by ourselves.


“POOP, LETA. You have to pick up its poop with your hands.”

She frowned. “But I really want a turtle, Mom.”

I suddenly had an idea. “Let’s hold it for a second and see how friendly he is.” As I scooped one out of the wood shavings Leta took a giant step backward. “Here,” I said. “Hold out your hands.”

“No, that’s okay,” she said, her voice shaking.

“Leta, if you’re going to have a tortoise as a pet, you’re going to have to hold him at some point. That’s kind of the thing about pets.”

She stepped forward, closed her eyes as she cupped her hands, and the moment I set the tortoise into her palms she shrieked and dropped it right back in the aquarium. It landed with a thud, but thankfully it got right back up and crawled to a corner. And that was when I started to get attached DAMMIT. My heart belonged to that tortoise. Its itty bitty head. Those tiny arms and legs wiggling around like a baby. That wittle mouth eating the wittle carrots!

“That totally creeped me out, Mom. I don’t want a turtle.”



I could tell she was devastated, so I set my hand on her head and said, “How about we go look at some fish?”

Internet, meet Leta’s new betta fish:

She has to take care of him, but I’ve agreed to help her clean out his bowl the first few times until she gets the hang of it. On the drive home I asked her if she had any names in mind, and she shook her head several times. She was much more worried that I was going to hit a bump in the road and he’d go flying through the car, pop out of the container and suffocate to death. Oh, hello daughter of Heather B. Armstrong! My, don’t you resemble your mother!

Last night she still couldn’t think of a name, so I asked her if I could ask you guys for suggestions. She thought that was a great idea, but she wants everyone to know that she will NOT refer to her fish as Fishy. You know how Marlo refers to all her stuffed animals as Puppy? Yeah, she is SO not a two-year-old, and that is just the dumbest thing ever. The sound of her eye roll made the water in the bowl vibrate.

So, you guys know any good fish names?

  • jen.yaya

    I love the suggestion of “Turtle”, as well as the Al(ph a Beta) thing.

    I had two Oscar fish as a teenager. Sexy Sadie & Mr. Kite. After two weeks Mr. Kite ATE Sexy Sadie, so I renamed him Mean Mr. Mustard. Beatles obsession aside, my point is that I do enjoy a good “proper” name for a pet.

    Mr. Darcy
    Mrs. Huxtable
    Sir Paul McCartney

    Now that I think about it… Oscar is a good name too.

  • juwel

    Claus. Then buy another fish and name him Santa.

  • kaplunkski

    Awww too cute! I think she should name it one of the following:


    Good luck Leta! You will be a great fish mom!

  • full contact knitter

    -Kitty. (although she might not get the joke, or more likely, she will and think it not funny.)
    -Purple People Eater. (call it Peep, for short)
    -Thumbs. (because it has none)

  • KathyRo

    My nephew has a long and illustrious naming history in our family. He started by naming my green Ford “Greenie” and the grey Camry that replaced it “Shiny”.

    Then he got a beta fish he named “Swimmy” followed by another beta which he also insisted on calling “Swimmy”. My sister dubbed them “Swimmy A” and “Swimmy B” to distinguish them. (This apple didn’t fall far from that tree.)

    Finally he got a little older and got a bearded dragon as a pet which he named… wait for it… Beardy! Yeah, he totally went there.

    I think the pressure to perform to these standards forced his sister to take a different route. So she named her baby doll “Baby Beluga” ( yes, like the whale ).

  • GlassofWin

    I also nominate “Turtle” – the situation reminds me of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (except thankfully Marlo did not swallow Leta’s non-existent turtle)

    Back up names:

    – Fitzpatrick
    – Bova
    – Sgt. Pepper

  • erinwelch

    How about Alpha?

  • Jeezus Beezus


  • Molly Guthrey

    How about, “Not Turtle”?

  • KarenN

    She looks like a Charlotte to me.

  • Erin47

    My best friend and I always wanted to own a Chinese Crested puppy named Squeesha, but I think I’ve finally faced the reality that it’ll never happen, so, Leta, you can totally have the name if you want 🙂 Or if you (like everyone else I know) hate that idea (why???), I’m with literarygirl for “Turtle.”

  • TheScarlett

    We had a goldfish named Che. That goldfish had a tremendous amount of personality – so much so that when his little swim bladder problem made him swim upside down, we used to defrost and shell frozen peas as a remedy. That’s right – we spent a crazy amount of time removing the shells from individual peas because we loved him. And I swear he loved us right back.

    I would say if Che isn’t appealing that you should consider Beckham. Beckham the Betta sounds really handsome.

  • houpley


  • Caren Lynn Cross

    No name suggestion, but only *you* would have such a stylish bowl in which to put Mr. Betta Fish.

    Welcome to the zoo Mr. Fish!

  • sodapopstar

    Scribbles/Mr. Scribbles

  • misszoot

    My son named his two Betas: Elphaba and Glinda. But unless she has a think for musicals, then my suggestion is: ROSE. ‘Cause she’s kinda pinkish.

  • santa barbara

    Looks like a Xanadu to me. But Turtle is funnier.

  • EliBailey

    So far “Betta Davis” has been my favorite from the comments. 🙂

    My sister’s ex-husband used to have a huge fish named Wowie. I don’t know what kind of fish he was but he was too big for his tank, so “wow” is usually what people said when they saw him. His name fit him really well.

  • Eilhsa5

    Bella the Beta Fish seems fitting.


    My daughter, Piper, has had a Beta for 2 years. His name is Freddy. She loves that fish. Freddy has been a good name for us in the “living for a long time” department. Good Luck, Leta! You’ll be a great fish owner!

  • Trina


    or Gomer


  • Sparrow

    I like ALPHA Betta. He’s her first fish too,so it’s sort of geekily cool.

  • Diorama


  • travelmonkey

    Jean-Ralphio. I tried to re-name my cat this, but after 12 years, he decided to stick with Moonunit.

  • bethvandyke

    my son’s 1st fish was named suckatizer – I thought for sure he would forget it by morning but no, that fish lived for about 2 years and I swear the less we cleaned out his bowl the more he thrived. Like the funk in the bowl was fish HGH or something.

  • aotlatds


  • LusherLaRue

    One of my favorite movies as a kid (OK, I still like it) was “The Incredible Mister Limpet” with Don Knotts (circa 1964). (Spoiler Alert) Mr. Limpet loves fish so much that when he falls in the ocean, he turns into a fish (with glasses), meets a girl fish and makes friends with a misanthropic hermit crab named Crusty and becomes a naval WWII hero, and … I don’t want to give it all away.

    So I nominate for Leta’s consideration “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” and if she prefers a female name, the name of Mr. Limpet’s (fish) love interest is Ladyfish. If those don’t float Leta’s boat, have her watch the movie. Maybe she will like “George Stickle” – that’s Mr. Limpet’s best (human) friend.

  • Janie1224

    I like Turtle as well.

    Or ‘Honey’ so she can say “Hi honey, I’m home!”

  • vaile fujikawa

    That fish reminded me of David Bowie ala Ziggy Stardust or Diamond Dogs.

    I’d call it Ziggy or Stardust, prolly.

  • kayceedee

    Charlotte or Celia if it’s a girl and Caesar for a boy.

  • cattrell

    How about Hans, because it’s a beta fish, and because I’m a nerd (Hans Bethe– pronounced “Beta”– was a Nobel award winning physicist)?

  • nelking


  • RachelAllenMedia

    She is clearly a Violet. Or Maggie (for Magenta. Not Mason).

  • GingerPeach

    We named our betta “Rutabetta” and he went by Rudy! We thought it was a pretty cute name 🙂

  • amyd


  • Sara9925

    Love the “turtle” or “tortoise” suggestion, but to give him some exotic flair, I’d go with “tortuga.”

  • Kat in Philly

    Otto. Like in Dr. Seuss’ “A Fish Out of Water”. Best. Book. Ever.

  • kah825

    my roommates and i are in the market for a fish. we are naming him harrison. seems pretty regal if you ask me.

  • Yep

    I vote Perry for a name. 🙂 Hey just a quick point: I’m glad you guys didn’t end up getting a turtle from a pet store. There are plenty of lovely turtles, lizards, and snakes up for adoption through the Utah Herpetological Association

    I don’t live in Utah, but am heavily involved in my state’s Herpetological Society. Most states have programs either through their Fish & Game departments or privately funded herpetological societies. Pet stores charge exorbitant prices for lizards, snakes and turtles/tortoises many of whom have been illegally and unethically obtained. It’s an area of the pet marketplace often overlooked and underpoliced, but by contacting your state’s Fish & Game department one can learn places and methods to adopt such animals legally, ethically and for little to no money. Whatever adoption fees may be required go right back into the care and feeding of other needy animals.

    Additionally, I’d strongly advise people against obtaining any exotic animals from sellers/traders on Craigslist. Household cats and dogs are usually fine, but exotic animals advertised on Craigslist are nearly always illegally/unethically imported, and carry high fines if caught. I know for a fact that my state’s Game & Fish department uses stings to catch suspects, as they should, and usually innocent adoptees/purchasers are not pursued, but the cases can often go either way.

    Sorry if I sound preachy – honestly, my intention is to be informative. Thanks!

  • Texas momma

    Considering that is a female Beta fish, I think she deserves a girly name. My kiddo suggested these name…

    Pinky Pie

  • Apepito2011

    Thor or Frankie Miller. I have a friend whose kid named their dachshund Frankie Miller. I think it’s pretty cute.

  • malisams

    I always name my Betta fish after characters in Harry Potter movies, sometimes using actual names (Hagrid, Sirius Black), sometimes doing a play on a name (e.g. Bowldemort, Kingsley Shacklebowl). Does Leta have a favorite movie/character?

    Though I love the idea of naming him Turtle, too…

  • kchaux

    Gil. Because I have a friend named Gil and we call him Fish.

  • Ms. Pants

    The only appropriate name for a Beta fish ever is Master.

  • erwinm

    Name her (him?) ALPHA the Beta fish.

  • SherpaTat


  • ADDGirl

    That fish looks like an Ariel (part mermaid, part sprite from the Tempest) plus he is pink!

  • Interrobanged

    In honor of the new season of Sherlock on PBS, how about Finnedict Cumberbatch? Heh.

  • nikivers

    How about Alpha?

  • socaldede

    “Stick”. Fish “Stick”. or Puddle, Swimmer, Reef, Algae Algin, Fish Stick Bowles (after me Denise Bowles), Fishkateer, Scummy, Bubbles, Scaley, Scales, Myrtle the Non Turtle, Friday Night (Fish Fry), Monday (after meatless Monday), Taco “Fish Taco”, Vegan, Spot or how about Swim Tin Tin?

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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