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?

  • jupiterj


    How about Clyde Samson Betafisimo? Clyde or Bets, for short. ‘Mr. Betafisimo’ for people who don’t know him well.

    Or, if Leta prefers a girl name … Flora Rosa, like the color of the fish.

  • Daffodil Campbell

    I have always liked the name Phineas.

  • pdxhadey

    I was going to say Sushi, but since I see that has already been taken, I’m going to have to go with Billy Ocean.

  • Scarlet

    My next fish is going to be named “Burp”. I’ve had this plan for about 5 years and have yet to buy a fish, so perhaps Leta would like to borrow it?

    It seems wrong to let such a great name go to waste!

  • prestonk9

    Sasha Fierce.

  • SeattleSue

    Gotta go with Beethoven.

  • Lraryee

    tortuga (Turtle in Spain), skilpad (turtle in Afrikaans), honu (turtle in New Zealand), Turtle (turtle in USA) or You can just name him BOB.

  • newburycottage



  • Cellar Mouse

    How about Alpha? Alpha the beta fish. Come on… Or there is always Delta. So many connections there.

  • Woon




  • The Baker Bee

    I had a Beta named Finnegan (Fin for short, of course) that lived for SIX YEARS. That’s a long time for a fish. When Fin died he was replace by Gilligan. Gill only lived for two years. Fin was obviously way cooler.

  • mfm

    What about Lavender? or Prince?

    Although “Turtle” as suggested by literarygirl might be the winner.

  • rebelmeyer

    A friend of mine once had a betta fish named Gorton. It was a perfectly hilarious name. He was my God-fish. (We were in college and drunk half the time.)


  • utahbeach

    How about “Betty”?

  • lemming

    Ruby Gloom?

  • smodan

    Gingersnap! Oh, snap!

  • rubyshoes

    A few years ago, my husband had a strong yearning to get a fish and name him Chaz. He was a bit disappointed to find out that the fish we picked out was female (not sure how you tell, with a fish).
    So we changed her name to Chazmina.

  • _justme_

    I have had quite a few fish in my life. A few of my favorite names have been:

    Lord Fishington, Colonel Mustachio, Fat Bastard, Fishy Smalls, Goldie Spawn and Leonardo DeCaviar.

  • apatten77

    My daughter received two beta fish for her fifth birthday. She was on a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory kick at that time; thus Charlie Bucket and Violet Beauregard were named. Charlie met an untimely death by overfeeding under the supervision of her grandfather, but Violet lived a long and happy life (for a beta fish anyway).

  • Aunt Baaa

    Ours (a Christmas gift from our accountant) was named Sushi. You know, to be ironic.

  • maureenp

    Thog or Jurgle?

  • aheinzer

    Fertilizer. You can call him “Fert” for short.

  • katybetz

    She looks like a *Rosie* to me 🙂

  • monkeysmom1

    When I was teaching, my friend, also a teacher, wanted to get a Betta fish for her classroom. So off we went to the pet store. She called hers Simon. Of course being at the pet store, I ended up getting one too. I called it Garfunkel. Simon and Garfunkel would ‘write letters’ to each other, and the kids loved it. When Garfunkel died, I got another Betta and called it Garfunkel Jr. So, my vote is to keep the tradition alive, and call it Garfunkel!

  • acm

    I’m not so sure that *all* pets must be held — my daughter is a frog fiend, and we have become owners of a pair of aquatic froglets that are to watch, about like fish, but strangely satisfying (and also with a 5-20-year lifespan THANK YOU GRANDMA). Anyway, with 20 years to think about it, she could work UP to touching and then holding it….

    Or not. Heh.

  • HI-D

    My college boyfriend had a fish named Fishstick.

  • poet

    Translation of this post: Look over here, guys, while I distract you with this SHINY FISH!

    Heather doesn’t care what you think she should name the fish.

    I’m officially done. This is my adios, Heather. There was a time when I defended you, when I enjoyed your site, but I realize now that “dooce”, for me, has become synonymous with “Kardashian”: a whole lotta nothing wrapped in money, and a great show if you like petulant tantrums.

    Name the fish after the lawyer you have on speed dial.

    Or maybe name it after yourself: Bully.

    Isn’t that what that “B” stands for, Heather?

    You are a vicious bitch and an insufferable bully, and shame on anyone who teaches their kids that bullying is bad but defends Heather Armstrong.

    Heather is a bully.

    A BULLY.

    She is the Regina George of the internet; she is a mean girl.

    Oh, but we were talking about a fish.

    I hope you find your peace, Heather, I really do. My 28-year-old self wants it for you, because my 33-year-old self thinks you’re an asshole.

    So I hope you find that peace. But you’re not going to find it on the Internet.

  • merri

    Beethoven the Betta Fish

    Or something else that celebrates Leta’s piano playing skills with the new adventure of owning a fish!

  • LuckIsMyMiddleName

    Mortimer. Or, if Leta decides he’s a girl fish, Persephone.

  • jessie.whittle

    I think I would have to name it Turtle or Myrtle since you originally set out to get a turtle.

  • forkyshauna

    I’m leaning toward Gill or Pearl. Although Finn is nice, too. My daughter did a science project on Siamese Fighting Fish, and they really do fight to the death [no, this was not part of the experiment]. So don’t put two males together in the same tank. For fun, put a mirror up to little Gill. He’ll entertain you for hours.

  • Meriadoc Brandybuck

    Congrats on the new edition! ‘Frodo’is a cute name for a fish.

  • alanmill

    Wanda–duh. As in “A Fish Called Wanda”–funniest movie ever!

  • joyluck76

    Surely someone has already suggested Abraham – Arnold’s fish from Different Strokes. That’s my vote. 🙂

  • AnneWF

    Looks like a Mel to me.

  • valkok

    When I was in college, I had a goldfish named Spasmotic Intentions (no, I wasn’t on drugs). I called him Spas for short.

  • julz1013

    How about Dorie? or Tukie? I once had a goldfish named Rebel because I loved Billy Idol so much. LOL

  • gladcow

    Princess Peach Pescadero

  • gladcow

    or, Maude.

  • dannyva

    Our old beta was Finn, my daughter’s new beta (she’s 4) is Alena. But my friend Ellie had the best beta name of all: Master Beta.

    Okay, perhaps inappropriate for a child’s pet.

  • slh25

    i like “tea song” – like mrs mamabird. I think she is an introvert like me – my brain takes that same roundabout path sometimes – but it makes perfect sense in the end. the only answer possible. Good luck with the new fish, hope it is still doing ok.
    Hope you are doing ok as well.

  • CrisLawson

    Aubergine. Sounds cool, translates as ‘purple,’ and it’s french so that’s neat too.

  • Kelly

    Our Betta’s name is Sonic. As in Sonic the Hedgehog, not the fast-food place with the tiny ice cubes. Everyone told us he’d die within the week, but he’s still kicking 3 years later…

  • Centiemme

    Jimmy. As in Jimmy The Fish. As in “sleeps with the fishes”.

  • Centiemme

    Jimmy. As in Jimmy The Fish. As in “sleeps with the fishes”.

  • ckmh

    I named by first beta – Henry.

    The second was – Henry II.

  • jessiCat

    My A.D.D. kicked in somewhere around the middle of the 4th page, so I haven’t read everyone’s comments. If I’m repeating someone, my bad.

    I say “TACO”. Duh, do you people not read the DoCo shenanigans? 🙂

    I had one named “Frank” before. Poor Frank, he was my buddy at work and when I left for maternity leave….those bitches let Frank starve to death.

  • gretchie

    T-Bitty, or perhaps Beta T (where T=Turtle)

    Or, to jazz it up a bit, Grand Funk Beta T.

    We could also get all retro and go with BetaMax.

    Then there’s the more worldly Boutros Boutros Beta.

    In conclusion, I cannot exclude Perry the Platypus as a possible name.

    Choose accordingly.

  • deborahjmum

    All these great suggestions — Leta’s job hasn’t really been made any easier; it will be so hard to choose one. I would offer “April May Armstrong” because Leta will always remember the fish’s birthday. Or, if you want to stick with the chicken theme, “Chanticleer”.

  • The Bold Soul

    I had a parakeet named Arnold once, but the moment I saw this fish, I thought “He’s a Leopold”.

    Don’t ask me why. Just intuition. Plus, the chances that you guys actually know anyone named Leopold are slim, so when the fish dies Leta won’t be as traumatized at the thought of flushing him down the toilet.

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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