(Kinda long, but its cute!)
Many ask me what it was like to raise the four young turtles that would one day become so respected and admired by so many. As I look back on the growing years of my sons, one memory I frequently remember is the time that my sons had come down with the chicken pox.
I had been in the living room reading, when I heard a soft whimpering. I looked up to see my six-year-old son Leonardo helping his brother Michaelangelo into the lair. I immediately took my son to the couch and looked at the large cut on his left arm. My mind started to race. Were they attacked? When did this happen? I needed to know so I could decide what to do if there was a possible threat of being discovered.
"How did this happen?" I asked as Michaelangelo sniffed silently. The other three stood silently, hesitant of what to say when the little one on my lap started to cry profusely.
" I'm sorry sensei, we went to the surface to look at the humans..."
The sewer grate opened carefully, being held up by two small green arms. Four pairs of little eyes watched the humans carefully.
"Wow look at them all," Michaelangelo whispered excitedly.
"SHH, they'll notice us if we're not careful," Leonardo whispered worriedly. The second the words had left his mouth, a small child saw them and walked up to them. The young turtles became frightened and shrunk back.
"Hi, my name is Tisha. What's yours? Why is your skin green?" She asked innocently. Michaelangelo swallowed hard, and put his hand out.
"My name is Mikey. You're covered in spots, are all humans like that?" He asked nervously. She held his hand, and shook it like a grownup.
"No," she giggled," I had Chicken pox all week, but I'm getting better now." Suddenly, in the background, A woman's voice could be heard.
"Tisha, come on, its time to go," she called.
"That's my mommy, I have to go. Bye!" The little girl turned and ran, small blonde curls bouncing with every step.
The four turtles quickly retreated to the sewers to avoid being seen again. On the way back to the lair, Mike's brothers asked him excitedly about what her hand felt like. The turtles had only known the feeling of their own hands and the furred hands of their sensei. This was something exciting and new to them, and they wanted to know about it.
"She felt really soft. Like a feather," Mike smiled. As they climbed down a ladder to get to the level of the lair, Michaelangelo accidentally lost his grip and fell to the floor, catching his left arm on a piece of glass. He howled in pain, holding his arm while rocking back and forth.
"It hurts, it hurts!" Mike moaned as Donatello looked at it. The cut was long and deep, and began to bleed slowly. Tears streamed from Mike's eyes as Leonardo and Raphael helped him to his feet.
"You need to see Master Splinter about that cut. It's really bad", Raphael said anxiously.
"No! I can't, what if he asks where we were? We'll get punished for going to the surface, and I'll get in trouble even more for letting a human see me!" Mike cried.
The 6-year-old turtles had never seen the world above, because of my stern warnings. `The humans would not understand you, and would try to take you away, or maybe even try to hurt you' I told them. I loved my sons and didn't want to see any harm come to any of them. However, I was very strict when it came to teaching them the consequences of disobeying such an important rule.
" ...and that's what happened. No one else saw us. Please don't be angry!"
My young son watched me, his eyes wide and frightened. As I had listened to their story, I counted to ten in Japanese to myself, then opened my eyes. I knew I had to punish them for this action, but I was concerned about Michaelangelo's arm. A cut that large worried me about infections and other possibilities. I took a deep breath and spoke to them.
"I am extremely disappointed with you four and what you did today. You all know the dangers of going to the surface. Someone other than that girl could have seen you." I looked at my three sons who stood before me.
"All of you, think about what you did today; Leonardo, take your brothers into the bedroom. I will speak with you three about this in a few minutes." Then I looked at the one on my lap.
" Michaelangelo, you come with me," I said firmly.
I led my youngest into my quarters, and retrieved the first aid kit. I set it on the table next to my rocking chair, and sat down, setting Michaelangelo on my knee. I cleaned and removed glass from the cut, put some healing ointment on it, and wrapped it in gauze. While I did this, I gave my son a firm scolding, telling him that it was wrong of him and his brothers to go near the surface. What made it worse was that they had disobeyed, knowing full well the consequences for doing so. I knew that my punishments were sometimes harsh, but when it came to the safety of our family, I had to show my sons that actions like this would not be tolerated. As I looked at my son, he looked as if he were on the verge of tears again.
"I'm sorry sensei. I promise I'll never do it again," He said. His face was hot from crying, and a little bit of embarrassment.
I felt my heart melt, as it always did whenever I had to punish him. He always seemed so contrite when he was sorry about something. Gently, I turned his face up towards me, and I smiled lightly.
" Michaelangelo, I know you are sorry, but you must understand why I am so upset. You did something you knew you weren't supposed to, and that is why I am punishing you and your brothers. Now, you and your brothers will be grounded for the next 2 weeks."
"Yes, sensei, I- " I put a finger over his small mouth, silencing him.
"I am not finished. For letting yourself be seen, and touched, by a human, I am giving you three extra days of restriction time. Is that understood?"
"Yes Master Splinter," my son said. I finished wrapping his arm and sent him to the dojo. I spoke to my other sons, told them their punishment, and said it was time for evening practice. That night, when I put my sons to bed, I noticed that Michaelangelo was feeling feverish. So, I sat in the chair beside his bed until he fell asleep. Little did I know about what was to come.
THE NEXT MORNING.....
After breakfast, I called my sons into the dojo for morning practice, and noticed that Michaelangelo did not come.
"Leonardo, would you please go and wake your brother up," I asked my oldest son. He nodded, and ran to the bedroom. I turned to have Donatello and Raphael start laps around the room when Leonardo suddenly reappeared, eyes wide and gasping.
"Master, there's something really wrong with Mike!"
I frowned, and entered the room. That's when I saw Michaelangelo. He looked extremely pale, and was covered in spots. Spots? I quickly pulled a chair up to the bed. I felt his forehead, and it was burning hot.
"Leonardo, bring me a washcloth and a basin of cold water. Donatello, bring the first aid kit. Raphael, bring me my remedy book."
I had found this book when I had been searching for food, and thought it would be useful. I placed the cold washcloth on my son's forehead, and took his temperature.
"101* Fahrenheit. Well, you certainly have a fever," I said to myself. Then I remembered something. One night, when I was out searching for supplies, I saw a woman with a child who had the same exact symptoms. Then I heard the mother call it Chicken pox. That's when I realized it. Michaelangelo developed a case of the chicken pox, presumably from the human child they had encountered the night before. And according to the book, the only cure was time and rest. Hopefully, it would not be any worse for my son than it was for the humans.
"So that's what it looks like," I thought to myself. I had not seen Chicken pox before, so I was a little surprised by it.
"What is it, Master?" my son asked tiredly. I brought the blanket up to his shoulders and sat back down.
"You have Chicken pox. You got sick from the human girl you met yesterday."
"How?" the young turtle questioned. I sat back and explained as simply as I could without confusing him.
"Well, you told me that the girl had said that she had the Chicken Pox. When you touched her hand, her germs got onto your skin. Most likely, when you cut your arm, you touched the cut with that hand. The germs got inside your body and that is why you are now sick."
"She got sick from a chicken?" Michaelangelo asked with a confused look on his face. I smiled, shaking my head. Leave it to Michaelangelo to make any situation humorous. Then, my young son looked up at me with a horrified look on his face.
"Oh no! If she got chicken pox from a chicken, does that mean that I got... HUMAN POX?"
No, my son," I chuckled, " It is called Chicken pox because you scratch at the spots like a chicken, I believe." I changed the look on my face as I glanced down at my son.
"Now you know another reason why I made the rule for you and your brothers to stay away from the surface. Human sicknesses can affect us in ways that we don't know about. That is why I am so strict about it."
"Oh," my son said, looking downward.
"Don't worry about that now. You won't feel good for a couple days, but you must rest now." I kissed him gently on the forehead, and left the room.
"Master, what's wrong with Mikey?" Raphael asked anxiously.
I shut the door, knelt down and put a hand on my son's shoulder, regarding them all carefully.
"Your brother has a case of the Chicken pox. It's not dangerous, but I want to make sure that you three don't catch it. You will need to avoid your brother until he is better. I am going to continue this morning's practice, but will forego this afternoon's practice. Instead, you will work on your school lessons, understood?"
My sons agreed, and we returned to the dojo.
Around noon, I went to check on Michaelangelo. I found him sitting up, trying to scratch the spots that had now become more prominent.
"Hi, master," the little turtle said miserably. I sat on the chair beside the bed, and felt his forehead.
"Your fever is down a little," I said, taking his hands," but you must not scratch the spots. It could make it worse."
"But it itches so much," He complained.
"I know. Would you like to have some soup?" I smiled gently.
"Could I come out there?" my son asked eagerly.
"No, my son - "
"Please??" he begged, shooting his deep brown eyes at me.
"All right, but just for a little while," I relented," wrap yourself in your blanket so we can keep the pox from spreading to your brothers." He wrapped himself up quickly and came out to the kitchen. I sat him down at the table and started to make some soup. I poured the hot broth into two mugs and sat down next to Michaelangelo. The other three had seen us come into the kitchen and sneaked in to check on their brother.
"How are you feeling Mikey?" Donatello asked.
"Look! I think Mikey's turning into a chicken! He's got a beak already!" Raphael said with mock terror on his face. Michaelangelo's eyes grew wide, and he touched the front of his face before realizing the trick they pulled on him. I couldn't help but smile.
"Hey, that wasn't funny!" He protested as his brothers laughed until their sides hurt.
Before any more trouble could arise, I quickly intervened.
"Aren't you three supposed to be working on your spelling lessons?" I asked, with a raised eyebrow.
"We just wanted to see how he's doing, Master," Leonardo explained.
"Go back to your lessons, my sons," I said. They didn't move at first, each pouting at my command. Once I stood up, they quickly scrambled back to their work. I shook my head and turned to my ill son.
"Finished?" I asked. He pushed the empty mug away, nodding. After using the restroom, he returned to bed and fell back to sleep.
That evening, I checked on Michaelangelo one last time before their bedtime. I found him awake trying not to scratch, but he was suffering. I quickly found out that the itching would be twice as bad for the turtles than it was for the humans.
"It itches so much, master," he said, tears rolling down his face. I wiped the tears from his cheek and hugged him gently. I wished that there were some way to make it all disappear and let him be well, but all I could do was tell him that it would take time to get better. Then I suddenly came up with an idea.
"Bring your blankets and pillow, my son. I think I have something that might help stop the itch," I said kindly.
He quickly followed me into my quarters. I set out a mat for him to set his blankets and pillow on. I had read in the remedy book that a warm bath help lessen the itching. Fortunately, we were able to have hot water available in the lair. I gave Michaelangelo a bath with anti-itching elements dissolved into the water. Afterwards, I laid him across my lap on his stomach and dried him with a warm dry towel, trying to alleviate the itching. I could tell immediately that it was helping, by the expression of relief on my son's face. I retrieved a warm blanket that I had thrown over the large hot water pipe that went through my study and wrapped the small turtle in it. I rocked him to sleep, then put him to bed on the sleeping mat.
I gave him this treatment every night for one full week. I kept him in my room so I could monitor his fever, as well as keep his brothers from getting sick. Fortunately, I was not susceptible to it. I had somehow gained immunity from it during the mutation six years ago.
One week after the day he had first become ill, the fever finally dissipated. The spots were starting to disappear, but I still kept him quarantined from his brothers, just to be safe. Unfortunately, while Michaelangelo was improving, his brothers caught it. That was how I found out that they had been visiting their brother when I had been busy with something else. They soon regretted for doing so.
"Mike, when we get better, we are going to get you for this!" Raphael said angrily, rubbing the spots on his arms and legs that itched uncontrollably.
"Well, that's going to be a while. Have fun, Raph. Oh, make sure you don't let the feathers grow too much. We don't need any turkeys running around the lair," he giggled. Fortunately for Michaelangelo, I came in to summon Raphael for his bath before he could attack him. I frowned at Michaelangelo, and he just looked up at me `innocently' before going back to the room. "Hmm, Kids," I chuckled to myself.
I gave them all the same treatment, making a larger pre-made batch of the ingredients for the bath. It took about two to three weeks for all of them to fully recover. I decided that they didn't need their punishments, for they had learned their lesson.
Not surprisingly, it also caused them to stay away from the surface for a while. But, eventually, my sons became brave again, continuing their ventures to the surface and coming upon more adventures in the darkness of the sewers.