Last night I was at my cousin's house helping prepare dinner for her husband, when in he comes, a good twenty minutes before we expected him. All excited he says, "Amber, come look! There's a snake outside!"
Immediately my brain goes back to the science classroom in Junior High when a snake tried to bite my ear off. I don't even try to repress the shudder that jolts up and down my spine.
Amber dries her hands and makes an excited bee-line for the door. Stopping she turns to me and says, "Wanna come?"
Before I even have time to shake my head, my son - the Mighty Lemur - yelps, "Yeah, Yeah!" and hopps down from the stool where he had been perched eating Cheerios.
Well, I'm not about to be outdone by my four year old, so I also followed her out the door, telling the Rivulet that I'd be back in a minute. She looked content with her grape juice and bowl of dry cereal.
Down the stairs and outside the garage, there it was: a small green and black garden snake. It was perhaps the length of Lemur's arm from wrist to shoulder, and skinny enough warrant the first words out of Lemur's mouth: "Oh, he's so cute!"
Now, cute's not the first word i would have used. Especially as it began to slither toward the asphalt in the most disturbing fashion; back and forth, back and forth quick and slickery until it reached the street and found the gravel uncomfortable on his belly. As he darted back to the cement sidewalk, I stole a look at my son and saw his intense desire to hold this new creature in his two little hands. Well, I'd cure him of that right quick.
I reached down and picked it up. It immediatly curled up in my palm and stuck it's pinky-black tongue out to smell my thumb. Luckily I had no more mental flashes of death and hissing. I was cool as a cucumber. Though considering what happened next, we may have to change the saying to "Cool as a Lemur."
His big blue eyes took in this "neat" reptile, watching in wonder as it curled around my hands. Then breathily he said, "Can I hold it?"
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Yeah, Yeah. Can I hold it?"
"Be careful and don't squish him. His bones are little, okay."
"Okay." He held out his eager little hands and let the snake slither into them.
I could feel each little bone as it wriggled out of my hands into the hands of my son who remained entirely calm. He brought the snake up and looked directly into it's dark little eyes and then looked to me, beaming, "He likes me! He likes me so much!"
The next ten minutes were spent trying to keep the snake in his hands. It tried to writhe away several times, even attempting possible death, though he was caught each time by the hands of my boy. Lemur never jumped, never squealed, never dropped the creature in surprise. Even when it tried to climb up his arm under his sleeve. He didn't even laugh. He was engrossed in the wonder of this reptile.
Finally, we decided to let it go in a sandbox. While walking there, the snake curled around both Lemur's thumbs, holding them fast together. Lemur leaned down and the snake slowly unwound itself and chose another place on the sand, under a truck.
As we were walking back to the house, Lemur's big blue eyes filled with tears and he seriously asked if we could take the snake home. This wasn't a fit. Wasn't a tantrum. He was completely impassioned and controlled. He REALLY wanted this. I said, "Okay. Let's get a bowl or something to take him home in." I turned round and walked back.
The snake was gone.
The rest of the evening, and even into today, Lemur asks if we can go find a new snake. But this time, he wants a purple one.