Certain Man’s Wife and snakes are best separated by a long distance. She does not like them. In fact, she cannot even think of them as “useful” in her most optimistic moments. There is a good reason for this. Whenever the subject of snakes comes up, it so happens that she is reminded of one of her lesser “shining” moments of parenting.
Back in the late seventies, Certain Man and Certain Man’s Wife were foster parents to three boys. Zion was ten, Blandon was four and David was two. (All unrelated. Zion was white, Blandon was bi-racial and David was black.) They also had two little girls of their own — Eldest Daughter was four and Middle Daughter who was a very wee girlie. That made the number of youngin’s five, and quite honestly, for the most part, things went pretty smoothly.
“For the most part, I said. The middle foster child, Blandon, had been abused and had life pretty tough. The only thing was, the longer he was in the home of CM and CMW, the more sympathy CMW had for his poor mother. She would never have been abusive to him, knowing what he had been through, but there were days when CMW thought dismally that, if she had been his mother, and not had the resources for life and help that were available to her, she might have pulled his hair out in patches, too. He was a beautiful child, but he was so naughty. And he lied and lied and lied and lied. The one thing that was helpful was that whenever he lied, he would pull his mouth around his teeth into this wide-eyed, surprised kind of look, and that was pretty much a clue for CMW to not believe whatever wild tale was forthcoming. (Tell-tale face)
On one particular morning, CMW was busy with household things, cleaning and such, and Blandon and Eldest Daughter were playing outside. They pretty much knew their boundaries, so CMW wasn’t surprised to see them running around the front side of the house and having themselves a grand old time. Suddenly, Blandon was in the house, with Eldest Daughter trotting on behind.
“Mom! We saw a snake out there!” Puffed Blandon. (Tell-tale face)
“We saw a snake outside. It really was a snake.” (TTF)
“Blandon, are you sure?”
“Yep, we both saw it, didn’t we, Christy?”
Eldest Daughter was markedly lacking in proper frantic actions, but she nodded assent. “Yeah, we saw a snake out there.”
“Yep, we really did, Mom. It was really, really big! It was this long!!!” And he made a motion about as far as his hands could go (followed by his tell-tale face).
“Listen, Blandon. I don’t even want to hear it. There was no snake out there.”
“Yes, there was! There really was a snake!” (TTF)
Eldest Daughter nodded her head beside him.
“Where was it, Christina?”
“I don’t know, Mama.”
“Blandon, where was this snake?”
“Well, it was outside somewhere, I’m not sure, but we saw it, and it really was a snake!” (TTF)
CMW was feeling pretty impatient with him by now. She had lived in Ohio for almost ten years, and really doesn’t think she had ever seen a snake in any of her yards during that time.
“Blandon, you need to tell the truth. Why do you always lie to me? Christy are you SURE you guys saw a snake?”
By this time Eldest Daughter was beginning to recant. Since then she has protested that CMW always thought that she wasn’t telling the truth so that sometimes she would lie just to get done with the inquisition. CMW resents that accusation. She does not think she did this, but out of fairness to Eldest Daughter, this bit of history needs to be included because Eldest Daughter was definitely distancing herself from Blandon about now and coming around to pretty much saying that she wasn’t sure.
“I’m not sure, Mama. Maybe we didn’t see a snake.”
“Yes, we did. We saw a snake! It was a great BIG snake!”
CMW decided that she had just about had enough.
“Blandon. That’s enough. You go back to your room and sit on your bed until you can tell the truth.”
“Blandon!” Said CMW, sternly. “That’s enough! Now go!”
He trudged back the hall to his room, and Eldest Daughter began playing on the living room floor. CMW tried to think what she had been doing, and found it hard to collect her thoughts. She noticed what time it was and thought that probably the mail had gone, and so decided to make a quick trip to the mail box.
“Christy, I am going to run get the mail,” she told Eldest Daughter. “I’ll be right back.”
“Okay, Mama. I’ll be alright.”
CMW opened the front door and stepped out into the sunshine. It was a cool morning, but the sun was shining on the front stoop and the cement blocks beside the front door. She took a step over the ledge –.
And almost put her foot down on a SNAKE!
It was sunning itself in the morning sun that was streaming down in front of the little gray house. She looked down and was so surprised she could have gone sprawling. (Knowing her recent history, it is surprising she didn’t!) She looked down at that critter and wished with all her might that she wasn’t seeing what she was seeing. (Why did God put that snake right there???)
CMW poked her head back into the house. “Blandon. Come here!”
He came out, probably wondering what accusations would be hurled at him now.
“Blandon. Is this the snake you saw?”
“Yes, that’s it. Yes, Mom, that’s it. That’s IT!!!”
CMW looked at that little garter snake and thought many self-justifying thoughts. It wasn’t great big. It was very, very small. But in her heart, she knew that she hadn’t been fair to one little boy, either. So she duly apologized and set him free from his confinement and went to get the mail. She did not disturb that snake. It had caused enough trouble for one day. If it wanted to sit on the front stoop and sun himself, that was alright by her. She had better things to do than chase a harmless garter snake. And she was getting on with them right away!