Friday, October 25, 2013

What We Do For Our Children. Spoiler Alert: Snakes

 Caleb scored this t-shirt at the Hoosier Herpetology meeting.  He's over the moon about his new duds!
 A frigid field trip is much more fun when chaperoning with a friend!
A fine looking bunch of first graders!

Recently I was reflecting on the sacrifices parents make for their children.  As much as I love my little ones, sometimes it's hard for me to "die to oneself," to put their needs and interests above my own.

This internal conflict rose to the forefront last night.

Caleb is gaga over snakes and all things reptiles.  I, on the other hand, would rather walk barefoot over burning coals than become chummy with a snake.  To say I detest slithery creatures would be an understatement.  Detest doesn't truly capture the depth of my feelings.  Hate?  Loathe?  Abhor?  You get the point.  

How Caleb and I share the same DNA is a mystery to me.

I'm mean.  Selfish even.  I put the kibosh on a pet snake.  Caleb was crushed.  Mommy guilt seeped in.  I searched for other ways he (and that means me) can commingle with scaly creatures without adopting them as roomies.  We stumbled upon the Hoosier Herpetological Society, a group dedicated to the study/love of all things reptilian.  Caleb was over the moon.

Last night, we attended a meeting.

We entered the lecture hall and immediately felt a wave of eyes flash in our direction.  As I scanned the room, the song, "One of these things is not like the other" began playing in my head.  We are the things not like the other.  It was if we landed on an episode of Duck Dynasty and no one cared to share the "wear camo" memo.

A bearded gentleman approached our crew.  He outstretched his hand and made an introduction.

"I'm Snakehead Ed," he announced.  "You must be new."

Now how did he figure that out?

He then motioned to various other members around the room with names such as "Rattler" Rick and "Water Moccassion" Wally.  It soon became apparent that should we move up in the rankings of the reptilian crowd we needed new names.  I pondered names with a bit more zing, perhaps  "Boa" Becky or "Cobra" Caleb.  Just a thought.

We snagged seats in the back right before "Indiana Jim" took to the podium.  He dimmed the lights and flipped on his computer.  Photos flashed on the screen.  He cleared his throat and began his hour long lecture on "Snake Road."  It was like watching someone's vacation photos with added commentary.  But these were not pictures of cute kids frolicking on a sandy beach, but of snakes and other creatures.  Snakes on a cliff.  Snakes in the water.  Snakes on the street.  And on it went.

I began to play "Would I Rather" in my head.

Would I rather roll around on a mattress filled with bed bugs or see one more photograph of a snake?

I'll take the bed bugs.

Would I rather brush my hair with a lice-infested comb or peer at any more salamander pics?

Hand me the brush.

Would I rather live on a diet of only butter sticks or hear more about turtle hunting?

Butter please.

At the height of my internal moaning, I gazed at Caleb.  He was transfixed on the screen, clearly in his element.  Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks; one of the biggest lessons I've tried to teach my boys—Life is not all about you; it's about others—I've never quite mastered.  The herpetology meeting was not about me.  It was about him.  

It's like this:

Caleb cares about snakes.  I care about Caleb.  And so I care about the meeting.

As we walked out of the meeting, Caleb gushed over the various photos.  I listened to his bubbly response and realized how much I really loved the evening too.

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