I hate snakes. No, “hate” isn’t a strong enough word. I loathe snakes? Despise snakes? Nope. That doesn’t cover it. I think maybe it’s more in the fear family: I think every snake was put on this Earth to search me out and kill me in my sleep? Yup. That covers it. I’ve felt like that for a very long time. I remember once, when I was 7 years old, I was playing in the yard.  I heard a rattling noise near my foot and my dog was barking like crazy. I look down and saw a curled-up-ready-to-kill-me-dead Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. I screamed for my Dad, who promptly ran from the trailer (humble beginnings…I’m sure we’ll revisit that subject in the near future…) with his gun. He shot the snake several times, ripped off the rattle and gave it to my little brother to play with.  Then, my Dad told me and anyone who would listen how close I was to being attacked and killed by the vicious, man-eating snake! Now, I’m no psycho-analyst but I’m pretty sure my fears stem from the events of that day.

I'm the one on the far left trying to hold back the small children from the still writhing snake. My brother, Scott is the small redhead with the toy gun.

I'm the one on the far left trying to hold back the small children from the still writhing snake. My brother, Scott is the small redhead with the toy gun.

How is this relevant to anything we’ve been talking about? Hang on…I’m getting there.
Flash forward 22 years. I meet and fall in love with Mark. A man who, unbeknown to me until it was too late and I already loved him, was going to be a herpetologist.  A freakin’ herpetologist! (That’s a person who studies snakes…don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too.) Thankfully, he changed his major in college!  So, follow me here…that means that I had fallen in love with someone who LOVES snakes. Not just loves them, but had them as pets his entire life! And this love of snakes was passed directly to…you guessed it…our son, Nate. {sigh}
So, let’s review: girl with intense fear/phobia of snakes is now the mother of a boy who “loves snakes just like Daddy!”
I’ve been to the Reptile World Serpentarium in St. Cloud, FL people! That’s the place that lets you watch the man with missing fingers “milk the snakes for venom”. I had to tell my son that I was crying “happy tears” because I was so excited to be there with him.  I also had to fight all my Mommy instincts that were yelling at me to grab him and run screaming from that house of horrors!  But instead, I stood there grinning through my clenched teeth as my proud husband wrapped a 5 ft. snake around my 3 1/2 year old’s neck. “Take the picture!” they both yelled at me. I took the picture, but the entire time I was thinking, “Great, I’ll have a picture of the snake to show the coroners when they asked me what happened.”
Nate and Mark. So happy to be so close to death!

Nate and Mark. So happy to be so close to death!

We asked Nate what he wanted for his 4th birthday. “Season passes to Gatorland!”  We live 2 miles from Disney World, but WE have season passes to Gatorland.  (www.gatorland.com) “You can touch gators and snakes at Gatorland, Mommy!” {sigh} “Wow, Nate, that’ll be so much fun!”
"Mommy...pllleeeaase touch the snake with me. Don't be afraid...I'll protect you!"

"Mommy...pllleeeaase touch the snake with me. Don't be afraid...I'll protect you!"

I’m the mother of a boy who loves snakes, gators, lizards and everything in between. So what do I do?  I’ll tell you.  I suck it up, fight my fears and I touch the darn snake.

I always make sure my son is safely buckled into his carseat, I have child-proof locks on all my cabinets and I let him sit on a live gator at Gatorland. Yeah, that makes sense.

I always make sure my son is safely buckled into his carseat, I have child-proof locks on all my cabinets and I let him sit on a live gator at Gatorland. Yeah, that makes sense.

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