First, before I tell this tale, I must remind you of the morbid fear I have had of snakes for just under 40 years. Click here to read about my paralyzing fear then come back. OK, having flash-backed to that will make my incredible feat of bravery even more awe-inspiring.
Repticon. The word itself makes my skin crawl, my chest tighten and my husband skip through the house like a kid on christmas eve. Polar opposite reactions. He’s not only infected my oldest son, Nate with the reptile “fever” but he’s the head of a reptile team at our sons’ Montessori school. I actually encouraged this job because I had hoped it would be an outlet for his love affair that was over 2 blocks away from my safe haven (home).
Now, no one wants to pass down to their children a crippling fear of anything…but you have to admit…if you do pass one to them, the fear of venom-filled, vampire-fanged, put-on-earth-to-kill-me beasts has to be low on the list of harmful fears, right? Second only to fear of poison and strangers with candy. You might even say that I would be doing a GOOD thing by teaching my sons to fear snakes… OK, so I don’t really believe that, it’s just something I say to myself to relieve the guilt I feel when I act like a deranged psycho-path in front of my kids.
Sooooo…I’ve been working on it. For the past 17 years that I’ve been with Mark, I’ve been easing into the reptile thing. It’s taking a long time but who’s counting? I can now watch real snakes on TV and movies. Not the fake ones that are trying to scare you like that freaking Harry Potter movie, where the snake strikes toward the audience and nearly put me in the psych unit of the hospital. I can look at snakes through glass enclosures with my family and not run the snake-breaks-through-glass-and-kills-entire-family scenario in my head. And I actually touched the tail of the snake at Gatorland when my then 4-year-old Nate told me not to be afraid, he would protect me. Big progress!
Long story, short…(too late!) Mark was going to Repticon on Saturday and he was taking Nate and one of his Reptile team, Brian. Imagine his shock when I announced, “Hey…I thought Zeke and I would come along.” He nearly fell over. All he could muster to say was, “WHY?!!” “So you don’t buy anything, of course!” I joked, which actually was half the reason I was going. The other half? I don’t know. The family that Repticons together, stays together? No, that can’t be it.
Anyway, when we get there, we meet up with Karen Simon, the director of the Montessori and she and Mark were on a mission to repopulate the school with critters.
Nate found a snake that was “Actually shedding his skin right in front of my eyes so I can see it happening.” and demanded that I watch with him:
I tried pointing to all the snakes, lizards and turtles but Zeke was not impressed. You could even say bored:
I was on a mission to find something to engage Zeke with. Luckily, we found a vendor with pygmy possums. So stinking cute! Zeke perked up so fast, you would have thought he said, “Free Legos” instead of “Wanna pet the possum?”:
Yes! We’ve made contact! Head is out of the wagon, Lego guy is in his pocket…we’re making progress! Then we wheel over to the next booth. There stands a man with a 75 ft. snake in his hands. (OK, so my mind plays tricks on me. It was more like 4 ft.) He looks me right in the eyes and starts to hand me the snake! “NOOOO THANK YOU!” I yelled louder than I meant to. I’m afraid of snakes, but I’m trying to work through it. Just me being in this building filled to the brim (gulp, not helping) with snakes is a miracle. He smiles and walks toward Zeke. “Hey, little guy, want to pet the snake?” Zeke looks up and says, “No thank you, I’m afraid of snakes!” OH, NO! What have I done? I slap myself on the forehead and compose myself. “No, Zekey…you’re not afraid of snakes. Go ahead and pet him.” “No thank you, Mommy.” Dang it! I must fix this before it’s too late. Damage control mode. “Zeke, I’ll make a deal with you. How about we both pet the snake? Deal?” He looks up at me, “DEAL!” and shakes my hand. Dan, the snake man holds out the snake and Zeke cautiously reaches out for a touch:
“How does it feel, Zeke?” “Good.” and he cracks a smile and reaches over for another pet:
Then Dan stands up and starts to hand me the snake. “Wawawait a minute…wait a minute!” I hand my camera to a nice man who I’m hoping will drop it and save me when the snake attacks. Or at the very least get shots of the massacre so that Mark will know what happened. “I’m just going to touch it. that’s the deal I made with my son.” I touched the snake and agree that it’s not slimy. Then Dan starts to put the snake into my hands. I think to myself, “OK, I could scream at the top of my lungs but that would scare Zeke and make the snake bite my face off. I could run for my life but leaving my son to fight off the snake alone would cross me off the Mother of the Year Award list. Or, I could summon my primordial instincts and kill the snake with my bare hands, cook it over an open fire and make a belt with its skin. OR I could grit my teach, hold the snake and help heal the fear I’ve placed on my innocent son. A deal is a deal:
Biting my lip so hard:
Oh, my god, oh my god, oh my god…Where’s the head? !!!! Dan just kept talking to me in a soft voice, “You’re doing great, good job, great job!” Yeah, I know that trick Dan…I use it on my kids when they’re getting a shot at the doctor’s. “Where’s the head Dan?” It’s peeking under its body and coming back towards me…”OK…here ya go, Dan. That’s enough. Don’t have to break any records here today…
So, I held the damn snake to “save” my son from the crippling fear I’ve carried with me for all these years. I used the Mommy power to push through the panic for him. I did it ALL for Zeke!
Now, please refer back to all three pictures. Zeke is back to playing with his Lego guys and has no idea any of this is even happening. (SIGH.)
Thank you Dan for getting me through the panic. I will admit to a flood of tears after the fact. But I did it. I ran the camera over to Mark (He’s been buying up reptiles with Karen this entire time, unaware that half of his family had faced mortal danger) “What’s wrong, Honey?” I couldn’t talk. I just handed him the camera. He looked down at the pictures and said, “WHAT? You did it without me? After all these years, you did it with another man?!!”
I’ve heard that “snakes are phallic” but this is ridiculous.