Judge Alexander M. Sanders, Jr., the Chief Juctice of the South Carolina Court of Appeals, tells a story about what happened when his daughter Zoe was just three years old.
Sanders came home from work one day to find his home – and especially his young daughter – in a state of turmoil. Zoe’s pet turtle had died, and she was crying as if her heart would break. Zoe’s mother had been dealing with the situation all day and declared that it was now Dad’s turn to try and make things better.
Sanders told Zoe that they could go to the pet store and buy another one just like the one who had died. Yet even at three, Zoe was smart enough to know that a turtle is not a toy. There’s really no such thing as getting another one just like the one who died. And so Zoe’s tears continued. Desperate to quiet his little girl’s tears, he said, “I tell you what, we’ll have a funeral for the turtle.” Being three years old, she didn’t know what a funeral was.
Scrambling to come up with an explanation – as well as something that would get her mind off the turtle’s demise; he said, “A funeral is like a birthday party. We’ll have ice cream and cake and lemonade and balloons, and all the children in the neighborhood will come over to our house to play, all because the turtle died.”
Well, the prospect of a turtle funeral did the trick. Instantly, Zoe was her happy, smiling self. The turtle’s death was no longer cause for tears, but reason to rejoice! So, with visions of cake and ice cream in their heads the two beamed down on the deceased turtle lying at their feet. As they did, the turtle began to move. And a few seconds later, he was crawling away as lively as – well, as lively as a turtle, but an undeniably LIVE turtle. Zoe quickly considered her options and looked up at her father with her big beautiful eyes and with all the innocence of her tender years said, “Daddy, LET’S KILL IT.”