Monday, October 24, 2016

The Problem with Inertia

A few days ago, I came home from work to find this on the kitchen counter.

In case it's not clear, that's a 14-inch snake coiled at the bottom of an empty pickle jar.
By the time I walked in, the snake had already been welcomed wholeheartedly into the family. The two younger kids tittered around the jar talking excitedly about what they'd feed it and what they'd name it while Sky searched studiously for information about our new pet on the internet.

Let's pretend you've been gone on a 10-day business trip to, say, Japan, where you were busy ten to twelve hours each day, fighting jet lag on the fumes of the caffeine you managed to get your hands on when it became clear you wouldn't sleep past 5 a.m. on any given morning. Then imagine you'd come back to a monstrously tall pile of midterm papers to grade and three children and a spouse with an infinitely deep mom-sized hole in their collective souls that could only be filled by you. Add to that a very full week of classes and meetings, and you have a pretty good idea of what state I was in when I met the snake.

Sometimes it can be really hard for me to keep it together. This was one of those times.

It took every ounce of my self control to keep a calm voice when I asked Ren, "Where'd we get the snake?"

His answer didn't do much to help my frayed, exhausted self.

"The basement," he said, simply. 

After a little more prodding, I learned that he'd found the snake at the bottom of the steps, and since it was in the kids' playroom, he assumed it was a toy. Until he kicked it. And it slithered away.

I don't know about you, but if I was home alone and found a snake at the bottom of the steps to the basement playroom (which is usually dark, by the way), and if I'd kicked that snake thinking it was a toy only to have it hiss away, I would have lost my sh*t. I'm not sure what form my screaming and fleeing would've taken, but I know that I'd probably never go into the basement ever again. Ever.

Ren is not me, though. Apparently, his first thought was to catch the snake, put it in a jar, and save it to show all of us when we got home. I wish I could've been there to see his actual reaction when he kicked a real snake with his bare foot. He tells me he did not scream and that he was not particularly surprised by it. Part of me finds that really hard to believe, but the other part of me knows just how unflappable Ren can be.

"What did you say when you saw it?" I asked hopefully, imagining that this might be the one time he expressed unfettered emotion.

"I said, 'Oh,'" he replied, "and then I caught it with some disposable chopsticks."

With chopsticks!!! Take that, Mr. Miyagi! I was too fascinated with the image of Ren plucking a snake off the floor with chopsticks to wonder whether he'd taken a jar with him or carried the darn thing up the steps while it squirmed disturbingly close to his hand. As I was thinking about this, I noticed that our usual drying pad was missing from the counter top. 

"It's in the wash," Ren said in response to my puzzled look. "The snake got away, so I had to wash it. That bugger is fast!"

Looking at the disinfectant wipes and everything that was pushed aside on the counter, images of Stow loosening the lid of the jar to get a better look flashed through my mind. 

"Don't you think the snake is pretty overwhelmed by us? Maybe we should put him some place quieter," I suggested, feigning concern about the snake in the hopes that Ren would agree to take the jar off the kitchen counter and put it into the garage. 

Mysteriously, the kids didn't seem to be the least bit fazed by this new addition to our family. (Then again, Ren is their father, so maybe this isn't such a mystery after all). By dinner time, Sky had determined that the snake was a venom-less, non-poisonous brown snake. I managed to get everyone through the dinner, homework, and baths without weighing in on possible names or giving ANY INDICATION WHATSOEVER that I would be willing to house a snake. Still, there seemed to be a general assumption that the snake was here to stay. 

When I left for work the next morning, I asked Ren to let the snake go before the kids got home.

"Okay," he responded distractedly. I couldn't tell whether he was not listening or whether maybe he thought a snake would make a nice pet, but I was pretty sure it'd still be here when I got home.

It was.

Ren was exhibiting an odd inertia about the whole thing, and I knew it was the kind of inertia that would lead us to becoming a two-pet family, so, before dinner on the second night, I took matters into my own hands and sent the kids out on a repatriation mission. They knew that the snake would die if we didn't either feed it or let it go, and they also knew--though I never said as much--that there was no WAY I was about to start feeding a snake. So, they traipsed out into the empty field behind our house and let not-so-little Snakey go.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, but I do know that I won't walk through the basement without turning the lights on ever again. And, I also know that a while pets can be a great addition to any family, it's okay to let the snake back out into the yard.


Stephanie said...

Chopsticks??? Ren is the man!

Also, is your laundry room in the basement? We had a snake get when we were replacing our dryer vent and it got in through a small gap in the wall where the vent came in. It was a large snake and I know for a fact that I had to have carried it upstairs in the laundry basket that morning before I left for work. The hubster found it in the hallway upstairs. He does not like snakes.

Volunteer Ren to turn off the lights once he gets into the basement (bring a flashlight for maneuvering around the basement)and look for any sunlight coming in through the wall (with the flashlight off), particularly around any basement windows, vents, etc. Basically any place where there may be a gap in the wall. I'd be willing to bet you've got a gap somewhere. Bonus: plugging the gap will keep your basement warmer.

Mom on the Edge said...

Thanks for the tips, I will put Ren on the job. We assume there are gaps in the walls in the storage room. Now, if we could just get the snakes to eat the mice and the cat to eat the snakes. we'd have this whole thing figured out!