My kids have become obsessed with watching the National Geographic channel and shows like River Monsters and Deadliest Catch. Friday night for family time we watched an hour of Python Chasers and the girls seem in awe of the giant snakes. My youngest keeps asking for an albino python, just like ‘Sunshine’ the friendly snake that came to visit her preschool last year. I don’t dislike snakes, but I have a whole list of reasons why I don’t want one in the house with us. Most of these reasons revolve around the fear I have that my youngest will use it against me when she is in one of her moods. I also have flashbacks to my childhood on the 30 acres we lived and what my youngest brother did with snakes.
My younger brother is one of the greatest people you will ever meet, we are talking salt of the earth. My friends that meet him like him better than they like me (so I have stopped introducing him to them). He is honest and direct and has a way of making you feel important when you are talking. He is also very considerate and has one of the best work ethics I have ever seen. He was always different; a leader not a follower and he was mischievous as hell. He had a smile that told you he had committed a crime of some sort and that you ought to watch your back. As the oldest of three children and the only girl, I became a target of interest for my brother. I will admit that I had spent some time torturing my two younger brothers and may have deserved some of the repercussions.
My parents moved out to a very rural farm area when we were still young, I was in high school and had established friends and activities, my little brother was young and so developed a keen interest for spiders, snakes and frogs to replace his missing human friends. He took a keener interest in trying to terrorize me with his new found friends. On my first car date, the boy came all the way out to pick me up and I had spent two hours changing outfits and putting on enough make-up to fill a small pothole. I was so excited and could not wait to go on that date. When he arrived to pick me up I yelled bye to my mom and headed out the door. As I crossed the threshold to the outside I remember feeling a sense of something strange and then I heard the giggle. I looked to my left and there was my brother with a Blue Racer snake in each hand, he yelled something like, “I’m going to get you” and started after me. I figured I could make it to the car and started running, just as I got to the car I heard the door lock. My date was as freaked out as I was and was not feeling chivalrous. I started running around his car, screaming for my mom at the top of my lungs, I swear the 60 seconds it took her to get out the door seemed like an hour. She yelled for him to get away from me and he stopped, but also released the snakes to the ground three feet away from me.
Let me add that my little brother could be the cutest and sweetest kid in the world and it made you want to do nice things for him. One day he came up to the house and said, “Sissy want to come see my surprise?” I should have known better, but he was so cute and sincere, so I followed him to the other side of the property in the woods. As we walked he kept putting more and more distance between us and I wasn’t sure why, I just assumed that he was too excited and couldn’t slow down. He finally stopped and pointed in a direction, “Walk over that way sissy and don’t look down”. Red flag finally goes up and I start looking around. As I walk, I see his surprise, a ten foot wide, six foot deep hole with a couple of boards across is covered with grass and weeds. I looked down to see the hole was filled with snakes, frogs and God knows what else. His surprise was for me to fall into that trench from hell and be stuck trying to climb out while I avoided the creepy crawlies.
We went through years of this cat and mouse game with snakes and frogs. Even when he didn’t have the real thing, he would leave an open coffee can that he used to catch snakes on my bed and I would refuse to sleep in my room for days after. As an adult he is still fond of snakes and creatures. One day my husband and I were behind him on my parent’s road and he suddenly slams on the brakes and runs into the woods. My husband stats to utter a , “What the hell”, but doesn’t finish as he sees my brother come back out of the woods holding the biggest Blue Racer I have ever seen. He came to our car and asked if we wanted to get out, that was a big NO for both of us.
The most frightening thing about the snake situation with my youngest brother and my youngest child is that she is so much like him it gives me goose bumps. There are days I actually call her by his name. The strangest similarity is that both of them turned during labor and came out breech, as a simple warning to my mother and I; “I am going to do things my way, always, so you better get used to it now!” As I am typing this I smile because I think of what an amazing human being my little brother is and have optimism that my youngest will terrorize me and make life difficult whenever she can, but she too will be an amazing adult.
Here’s to hope, optimism and snake charming!