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?

  • Sassy Granny

    Someone probably already suggested this, but I’m too lazy to read all the comments. I think Finagin is a perfect fishy name. I know…it’s misspelled. Creative license!

  • leesuhrenay

    We have a Beta at work and he is the lone survivor of a bunch that used to be part of the “plating” for ceviche…no we did not eat the Betas! Anyhoo, we call our Beta Lionel Fishy…and I giggle every time I hear or say his name!

  • FlushedFace

    Barnaby if it’s a boy. Shelly if it’s a girl.

  • rkk1979

    The fish should totally be named Turtle.

    Also, turtles are valedictorians of moving slowly. Cut them some slack.

  • victoria

    Him? I think that’s an Alice!

  • painterdoll

    My friend had a beta named Winkle in college. I had major fish name envy over that. Have fun with the new one! : )

  • edills

    I think “Horatio” would suit this fish perfect. The red reminds me of Horatio Caine’s hair on NCIS Miami.

  • Jeneric

    My daughter’s PreK room has a betta named… fluffy. For the tail. It’s fluffy, that tail. Reminds me of what The Stupids might name a fish.

  • k.wren

    Hmmm how about “Her Royal Highness Kiki Elizabeth Armstrong”.

  • Lne

    Betta is short for Elisabetta – Elizabeth – in italian, so maybe you could stick to Betta.
    or Purple.

  • deirdre04

    I really, really like Squeetthang’s (comment #7) suggestion, literarygirl’s (22) Turtle, and PARoberts’s (171) Galapagos. mmankavitz (45 — name him Mystery) was a great story. =)

    I also really like Sushi — mostly because I have always wanted a miniature pig to snuggle and cuddle and dub Bacon.

    Betta are very easy to care for, but I’ve known a ton of people whose bettas have died shortly after arriving at their new home. Bettas thrive in nasty pools of stinky, swampy water, but who wants that in their house? So I always used AVI’s Stress Zyme and Stress Coat. That’s it. That’s all I used. I cleaned their bowls once every 3-4 weeks and called it good. Adagio and Allegro lived for 6 years.

    Also, poet (227), go suck an egg.

    Thanks and gig ’em.

  • hshellen

    Ha ha. Remember that time you convinced Leta that she should not get a turtle because they live forever and she would have to take care of it in college….yeah.

    So in 1998 I bought a goldfish and he is currently swimming happily behind me in his tank. Yes, he is 13 years old and I feel like he must hold the key to world peace or is the second coming of Christ or something. And yes, I took him with me to college.

    His name is Ernesto and he is awesome.

    But anyway, welcome to the wonderful world of fish, Leta! You will enjoy your little buddy!

    I love “Turtle” as well. So clever I wish I’d come up with it myself.

  • joycieahn

    I had a betta once and named him “Mort”, short for “Mortimer”…because seriously, he just kinda hung out all dead-like at the bottom of his bowl all the time…(mort is french for dead in case you didn’t know!)

  • jmcclark

    I had two goldfish once. My dad suggested I name them Rigor and Mortis.

  • digitallounge

    I recommend naming him: Chopper.

    Do not get all sentimental and try to pair him with a bottom feeder in case he’s lonely. Some fish people will tell you that bettas can live with bottom feeders. I put one in the tank with ours (Jasmine) and he killed the new fish in under an hour. Chopper, or any other military-oriented name associated with killing would be my recommendation.

  • Kari68

    Filet is the perfect fish name. Filet O’Fish if you want to be more formal. I named my kids’ fish that when they were too young to know better.

  • boilermomof4

    My daughter has a Beta and his name is “Huckleberry Fin[n].”

  • kturney

    My vote was going to be for “Turtle” as I can see has been suggested. She gets the best of both worlds. Should “Turtle” not be the winner, I would suggest something like “Alpha”. She can say, “This is Alpha…my betta.”

  • MacGrrl

    I think “Alpha” would be a good name for Leta’s betta fish. 🙂 Perhaps “Al” for short.

  • themuskrat

    We just got a beta fish, too. His name is “Bill.”

  • mtmartin

    when we were kids we have a rainbow fish named Roy G. Biv
    Also, she strikes me as a ruby.

  • delpien

    my son, 9, named his beta fish “sushi”

  • Nicmas

    Ziggy Stardust

  • Kristanez

    Looks like a Mortimer to me.

  • EZK

    We named our cat People.
    It’s hasn’t stopped being funny.

  • Jenndell


  • hollyloo

    turtle. his name should be turtle.

  • newoldfashioned

    Jewel – like the colors on the fins. Or Emerald, Sapphire…

  • schizik

    What about Mauve? I love old lady names 🙂

    Also, this sounds like crazy sci-fi, but my friend had a beta that had a flesh-eating bacteria, so watch out for that!

  • Cosmo3807

    So many comments, don’t know if you’ll get to this late one! I don’t have a suggestion for a name, but I do have a suggestion. My mother (88yo) was given a betta at Christmas. They are beautiful fish. We put a mirror next to the tank so he wouldn’t feel lonely & he always ‘flares’ when he sees himself. So pretty! She named him Joseph since it was C’mas time.

    The water got dirty quickly & often. Hence my suggestion:

    I found a one & a half gallon tank with a filter that is well worth setting up. It is still very small, but large enough for a single fish. I highly recommend it. The filter is very quiet & the tank is covered and also has a light. I got it on sale at Petco for $14.99. Wal-Mart has them for $19.99.

  • wisa03

    My first thought was “Turtle,” too!

    Or Maude. Or Donatello!

    She could name it after a character in one of her favourite books, too.


    Edward. Winston. Any sort of butler-associated name. Smithers!

    Alright, let’s go with Aurora or a book-character, I suppose. Have we decided if Mr. Fish is a Mr. or a Mrs.?

  • jamieinaz
  • judybeen

    I love Dooce, but I can’t bring myself to page through 10 pages of comments to see if anyone has suggested “Moby” yet. Seems fitting- he looks white(ish).

  • ylime320

    I don’t know if it’s been said (mainly because I don’t have the time to peruse the many pages of comments), but if Leta decides it’s a boy…Jacques. If she decides it’s a girl, Amelie.

    I’m feeling FRENCH today!

  • AudioGranny

    Gepetto from movie Pinocchio had a fish named CLEO

  • 2christys

    Um…hello??! Alpha.

  • PrincesseEmma


  • Dawndilion

    I had a beta (or 3)…..I named the 1st one Gill.

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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