Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Rise and Fall of the Gator Killer

So, Gator Killer died. Who is Gator Killer? Why he's Paul's lovely Christmas gift from Santa. Nothing says "Happy Birthday Jesus" like a serpent, I always say. I mention the news because Scott and I were actually very sad. We had just fed him his first "fuzzy" which is a baby mouse that has fur and is a little bigger than the "pinkies" he was eating before. While I despise the process of feeding the snake, I do appreciate that the kids learn something about nature and the circle of life. At any rate, the weather has been up and down and the light we were using for heat needed a new bulb. We did our best, but snakes need a good amount of heat to digest their food, so poor Gator Killer died from hypothermia.

I was keeping my eye on him because he hadn't been moving, but he doesn't move much after a meal, so I wasn't really concerned until yesterday. I ventured to open the hatch in the terrarium and touched him. He was freezing and his tongue didn't dart out in its usual fashion. I felt so deflated and sad. I felt sad for Paul, of course, but honestly I felt sad at the loss of our snake, a snake I never really wanted and never really cared for during his short stay. There was still the issue of informing our kids, who did care for him and did enjoy him. Over text Scott and I considered a quick switch. C was home sick today, so I asked her what she thought about parents who did such things with gerbils and fish.

"That's lying. Who would do that? If my pet died I would want to be sad about that. I don't want to just pretend it didn't matter." Leave it to Charlotte to explain to the big people the damage deception really does. It also left me in the position of not wanting to tell her that I knew Gator Killer was dead. So I didn't. I let Paul find him. Paul came running into me saying Gator Killer had mulch in his mouth and wasn't moving. I went to see and sadly informed him that Gator Killer had died. "I'm sorry Buddy." I really was. I told him maybe we could get another snake soon, which cheered my little guy up.

Losing a pet stinks. I was sad Gator Killer died not just because we had a responsibility to him, but also because we did make fun memories with him. The pride Paul felt in showing off his pet to his friends and our neighbors was beautiful to watch. The care he took in making sure to handle Gator Killer every day so that he didn't become skittish was a flash of maturity we had yet to see in our little guy. Paul loved that I didn't like snakes but let him have one anyway. He loved that most of his friends were forbidden from having a snake. He loved that Daddy loved snakes too. He really enjoyed when people who were nervous about snakes would hold Gator Killer anyway. It felt good to him to facilitate someone overcoming nerves.

When I asked Paul if the new snake would be called "Gator Killer Jr." he, without any hesitation, said, "His name is Popcorn." Popcorn came into the family last night. Apparently Daddy couldn't stand the idea of going one night without a snake in the house. He also came with a bigger terrarium, a new water dish and a heating rock where Popcorn can snooze after a big meal and digest his prey. I have so much joy to express about this turn in our lives.

Even though I'm not loving the snake thing I will close with the acknowledgement that allowing Paul to have a snake has been a spiritual exercise for our family. It's all well and good to know that to deepen our relationships in life we have to be willing to be uncomfortable at times, it is a whole other to live it. While I am the parent and, "I do not like them." is as good a reason as any not to get a pet, it's also a good reason to allow certain things. There is no danger in having Popcorn or Gator Killer because neither are dangerous animals (unless you are a mouse). I have a partner in caring for the animal if the little boy wasn't quite up to the task. It was a lot better to say yes to this uncomfortable experience than say no because I not only was gifted with watching our family bond over a seemingly unlovable creature, but I also showed my children that this family is not all about what mom and dad want all of the time. The kids don't see all the sacrifices Scott and I make, as they shouldn't, but in this case they did see one that I made, and that's good also. As for Scott, well his wife trusted him that it was important that the sole boy child in the family have some boy child experiences, which apparently include serpents. I call it a win.

RIP Gator Killer. Go give Saint Patrick one of your kisses. I heard he loves snakes as much as I do.

1 comment:

  1. um. You, my friend, are a much better person than i.