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?

  • Erin C

    Finnegan, affectionately known to those who love him as Finn!

  • Norabloom

    I can’t believe I’m turning over one of my favorite names but, for Leta, here it is:

    Octavius (or Octavia, if it’s a girl)

  • StefanieLCR

    Once when I was in 10th grade I wrote a psychology paper that was completely sarcastic and totally tongue-in-cheek about my fake baby named Penelope. I don’t even remember it being on topic. I hated that class and didn’t even care.

    So I’m going with Penelope.

    I got an A on that project. Fuck high school.

  • brenintx

    our last betta’s name was Fishstick

  • Jeca51601

    Well, my 10 year old daughter Ana says:

    -Tommy if it’s a boy, because apparently this is a nickname for a great white shark, and Leta’s fish kind of looks like the great white shark (don’t ask…)

    -Shimmer if it’s a girl, because she’s so sparkly…

  • sarah.wilson

    I got a betta fish when I was a freshman in college, because it was the only pet we could have in our dorms. I named him Jeeter Pogginbonski and he lived for nearly four years. I loved that stupid little fish…

    Now I have a dog (Splinter) and two cats (Chairman Meow and Khat). You can steal any of my pet names for this fish.

    Oh, also, past pet names: Cotton Candy (cat), Pepper (dog, and also cat – I wasn’t very creative), Sunflower (lizard).

  • ames0505


  • luv and kiwi

    Cracking UP over Miss Havisham. I say his name should be Bartholomew (the Beta)

  • mpt


  • iam3footjeep

    Pete Marino (after a character in the Patricia Cornwell books).

  • mirenis

    He’s cute..Francis or Snowball.

  • subjectivitis

    I like the idea of naming a fish Harry. You could probably call him Harry Potter since he lives in a pot kind of thing. Another name I always try to get people to name their pets? Tuba. I don’t know why but I really want to know a pet named Tuba. Although, I think that’s because I have a lot of fun saying the word “tuba”. Tu-BAH!

  • kate the great

    Clearly, his name is Percival. I don’t know how this is even a question.

  • deidreb

    it’s sort of obvious that he’s a mr. bojangles.

  • Sabine

    Princess Penelope Ponderosa Peachfuzz.

    (Polly for short.)

  • gerri

    He’s a Gator for sure.

  • owensmama

    Well, since a Betta is a Siamese Fighting Fish, and Siam is now Thailand, then maybe you can go with the Thai word for Turtle, which I think (well Google tells me) is Tao.

    But you should probably double check that, because I would have for you to name your turtle the Thai word for butt. Or steak. Or something else inappropriate.

  • melanie

    If I were a little girl, I’d probably go with Sunset, because of those pretty pretty sunset colors. And then I would pop my Bubblicious and try to find my favorite doll’s missing rollerskate again. Her name was Kimberley – how about Kimberley?

  • debramac

    Okay. Stay with me here. This is so funny because I saw a guy today with a T-Shirt on that had this city name on it. And I thought, damn, that is funny, but where will I ever use that joke?

    And then Dooce asks, whadoinameafish?

    Since beta fish apparently originate from what is now Thailand, I vote we name it after a city in Thailand.



    Damn, that is cracking me up.

    Which of your children would be the funniest saying it. Ohhh I can’t decide!

    Leta: Show and Tell. Priceless
    Marlo: Phuket lets go phwimming!

  • Jules K.

    You’ll get no help from me. Two years ago we let the boys name the three goldfish our 3 year-old won at a festival (who knew he had such an arm?) and that’s why we are the proud parents of G.I. Joe, Georgie-Boy, and Isaac. We bought a Pleco last week to help keep the tank clean, and my now 5 year-old, he of the mighty arm and dubious naming skills, decided to call him Dev. Dev! I have a hipster bottom feeder.

  • colemic

    NewLou. Or Lou2.

  • rebeccacdm

    I saw that fish and my first thought was Lola – she’s pink, fluttery, and girly. I have never seen a fish look more like a “Lola” in my life!

  • debramac

    juwel said: Claus. Then buy another fish and name him Santa.

    But then when you have to tell Leta that there is no Santa Claus she’ll think her fish died.

  • cassidy.stockton

    Since we can’t know really if it’s a boy or a girl, I’d go with Jorge because this fish reminds me of a flamenco dancer.

    I also liked “turtle” quite a bit. Good luck to Leta and her new pet!

    Also, smart parenting on getting her to hold it first… genius!

  • Sophia

    I think Turtle would be perfect. Here are a few other ideas:


  • girlfriday

    I would also go with “Turtle” or, if not, then I second @brookelusby’s suggestion of “Poppy”.

  • kate_lucy

    We have a Betta fish in my office, and it’s named Tidy. He’s meant to remind us to keep the space tidy, and I’ll be damned, but it works! (plus, Tidy rolls off the tongue nicely…)

  • elizedge


  • juwel

    debramac, good point. So then, name the fish Sam and buy another fish and name her Ella.

  • missmeggg

    I had a beta fish that lived for 6 years. His name was Fernando. My current beta’s name is Alejandro.

  • REB64

    I say Swimmy after the wonderful eponymous book. My son says Rufus.

  • mcTMaster

    One commenter mentioned this is probably a male fish you should name him MISOGYNIST

  • trxiliann

    I say sedrick!

  • meg3311

    About 5 years ago, before Miley Cyrus got addicted to drugs and sluttiness, my daughter’s fish was named Hannah Fish-tana. Brilliant, I know.

  • Bannod

    Alpha 😀

  • TigerLily

    Several years ago my kids convinced me to get a betta fish for my office. I relented, figuring a fish in a bowl would be no big deal, right? W.R.O.N.G. That damn fish kept getting sick and I was constantly trying to figure out what was wrong with him and how to treat him. Bettas are not meant to live in a filter-less bowl. They are meant to be in a temperature controlled tank with a filter, with water that is monitored continuously for proper pH levels. I’m not trying to get preach-y on you, just trying to prevent you from having to deal with the hassle I went through by not putting my fish in the proper type of tank.

    And the name — mine was named Sushi. IMO there is no other name for a fish!!!

  • fromthecarpoollane


  • christyb


  • jannie

    How abut Rapunzel? This fish has pretty ‘hair’.

  • Syveril

    How about “Sergeant”?

  • quiltingdaisy

    I Love Chrysanthemum because her classmates will be impressed that only she knows how to spell it.

    Or Miss (insert favorite flower name here) for example; Miss Buttercup, Miss Petunia etc.

  • ashley.shepard

    I used to have a beta named Fluffy.

  • chickpea024

    What about Lavender?

  • Aristotle was not Belgian

    He’s kind of a rust color. You should name him Rusty James after the character from Rumble Fish.

  • meganroth

    Opal… this fish looks the color of an opal to me.

  • dinah

    Leta’s beautiful fish reminds me of a lovely frothy, creamy…….


  • tissylu

    Admiral McFluffyboots

  • Colgate

    I like the suggestion of Pajamas.

    Zuzu(‘s petals!)

  • denamc

    My daughter, Eva, will turn 8 in June and she says he looks like Calvin or Flynn.

  • jeanneb67

    The absolute best pet name I’ve ever heard was a canary named Johnny 5-0 (pronounced Johnny Five Oh). I think it could work for a fish too.

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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