I was obliged, at 5:00 a.m., to crack open a dictionary to see if could find a word to describe this relationship I have between Frankie and myself.
Yes, long before everyone else is obligated to respond to the dreaded alarm clock, forced to wake and wash and dress, to stumble toward a coffee pot that promises a bolt of bravery, to forge forward to their job or responsibility or school or even just to head toward a day of leisure, I am up to see if my precious Frankie is sleeping soundly, warm and snuggy, in the gecko room, because for some insane reason I can't allow a creature evolved to handle cold nights to stay outdoors in a heated custom-made habitat capable of keeping him safe and sound, and I need to find a word that describes exactly what a sap I am for an 11 year old, 85 pound sulcata tortoise.
I'm not sure there is a word that fits. "Sucker" was the next word that popped into my mind.
Sulcata keepers often refer to themselves as "Parental unit" but I hardly feel as if I am raising a child and guiding him through the human experience by teaching him hygiene or the alphabet, or hazards of riding a bike, or how to be polite.
Frankie crashes through his life and I find myself trailing behind the wreckage cleaning up after him.
The word "slave" passed before me but along with all the negative, ugly connotations it strongly implies an unwillingness, without-choice, forced service. No. Not only is my participation willing, I strive to excel, to go beyond expectations or obligations. I volunteered! I put my hand up begging to be chosen.
Back to the word, "sucker."
But sucker implies being deceived or duped. Nah. I knew what I was getting into. I anticipate the next pound. There is extensive preparation. I put forethought into Frankie's care.
Sap? I feel this way sometimes but still it doesn't fit. Gullible? Pushover?
Maybe I am looking at this all wrong.
Maybe 5:00 a.m. is the wrong time to think about this.
Maybe a cup of coffee?
How about just grab a pillow and a blanket, go downstairs to the gecko room and curl up on the chair and watch Frankie sleep?
How about just install an elevator in the house so Frankie can come upstairs and sleep under our bed.
Did I just really think that?
Yes, I did.