boarding school for troubled boys

How many of you out there have brought home a wild animal for a pet?  You thought the kids would learn to appreciate nature a little more if it were up close and personal.  You thought you’d rescue a baby rabbit about to be eaten by your cat which had it cornered and seemed to be enjoying a long, slow torture.  You thought you’d save a few bucks and not have to visit the pet store.

All of the above for me.  My most recent take home trophy was a turtle – one of those crazy turtles that tries to cross a busy road and usually ends up cracked and splattered.  I have to admit that I’ve done this several times, and the end result is always the same.

It starts out as a fun little project.  We do a little research about what the turtle likes to eat.  Bugs, worms, strawberries.  We try to recreate its natural habitat.  Grass, water, mud, leaves, sticks, and stones.  We try to find a container which will keep the turtle from escaping or from being eaten.  A medium sized pink plastic bucket with a piece of cardboard on top. Yeah, we need to work on that one.

We then place the turtle in its new home, optimistic that he will become a close family friend.

For the first few hours, the kids seem to enjoy the turtle.  Maybe they give him a name, like George Washington or Walkfast.  But soon, their enthusiasm starts to drain.  I don’t blame them.  Turtles just aren’t that exciting to watch.  They just sit there…especially when they’re confined to a bucket.  We haven’t exactly created turtle paradise, but even if we did, turtle paradise would not entice a turtle to do much more.

Within a couple days, the bucket starts to stink.  I haven’t seen the kids so much as wave at the turtle, and so I unceremoniously dump him in the pasture beside our house.  He sits stunned for a few minutes, then scuttles away like nothing happened.

Regardless of my failure as a turtle whisperer, I think my desire to care for this turtle reveals something about human nature.  We all want to fix things. We know that for all our world’s glory, something is not right; something has gone terribly wrong, and if we don’t do something about it, things will get steadily worse – be they rabbits, or turtles or boys.

Whetstone will never be able to replace the natural home that God designed for our boys, but rest assured, we’ll give them a lot more than worms and pink buckets.