Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Snake Man

Toy snake? Yes, please.
Moses will be 5 at the end of this month! Five just seems so.... old. He's really big. He's really grown-up. He's completely left the world of babyhood and toddlerhood forever. When did this happen, someone please tell me! It's just not right. Well, it's amazingly fun to watch him mature and become a fascinating little boy, but it's hard to see it happen so quickly...

Anyhoo, I wanted to share with you this kid's amazing, voracious obsession with SNAKES. Yes, he is a snake fiend. I remember many years ago when Mo was just a baby, I was watching some preschool kids in nursery at Grace's Musik Garden class, and there was a 4 year old boy there who knew everything about construction equipment. I was just blown away watching him point to pictures in his book and say, "That's a skid loader, that's an excavator, that's a backdumperscraperbulloaderhoe...." or whatever. It was crazy, he couldn't read but he knew all 50 or so pieces of equipment in his book - he just rattled them off, no problem. I thought this kids was some sort of prodigy or something!

Now I realize that it's more likely he just had a fascination with construction equipment and had a book about it and had parents who were willing to read that book to him 10 or 12 times a day. Every day.

I know this, because that's what's happened with Moses and Snakes. First I brought out a stack of books I had gotten at a sale and had packed away for a while. In the said stack of books was one about snakes. Moses snatched it up and was super keen on it. Thus started the interest. Then for Christmas he got the Mother of All Snake Books from his super-cool Great-Grandparents.

Then the obsession really started. First thing EVERY MORNING, Moses could be seen stretched out on his tummy, paging through The Snake Book. We read it non-stop every day for weeks and weeks. Pretty soon he could identify 20+ snakes on sight.

"That's a Reticulated Python, that's a Green Anaconda, that's a Burmese Python, that's a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, that's a Black Mamba, that's a King Cobra...." and on and on. AND, he could tell you pretty much any random fact you might want to know about snakes. Did you know that some snakes lay eggs and some give birth to live babies? Did you know that Sea Snakes have the most potent venom, the King Cobra is the largest venomous snake, and the Indian Cobra is responsible for the most fatalities? Did you know that the Milk Snake looks just like the Coral Snake, but one is poisonous and one is harmless?

Which is Milk, which is Coral??
(In case you're ever confronted with a snake of red, black and yellow bands, and want to know if it's the poisonous Coral Snake or the harmless Milk Snake, please remember this rhyme: "Red on yellow, you're a dead fellow. Red on black, you're alright Jack."  You're welcome.)

The poor book was tattered within a couple months, and has since undergone major reconstructive surgery in order to reattach covers and mend torn pages. Thankfully half a dozen more snake books have been added to the originals, giving us endless snake-reading possibilities. 

Here's some of our favorites, in case you have a snake-lover in your home:

Snake by Chris Mattison (The Mother of all Snake Books)

Verdi by Janell Cannon (Wonderful storybook for the whole family) 

Snakes by Seymour Simon (This one has AMAZING photos!)

Moses' favorite: the Green Tree Python!

I personally have never been squeamish about snakes - in fact, I think they're pretty cool. Maybe if we lived somewhere where there were deadly snakes about I might feel differently, but I'm pretty okay with the Minnesota varieties. There's a long history in my family of snake-hunting, going all the way back to when my sibs and I were little tykes and my dad and uncles would take us out looking for snakes under piles of scrap lumber and in the fields. Now that tradition is being carried on to a new generation, as my dad and brothers are taking my kids snake-hunting when we're out in the country.

Well, Uncle Caleb has taken things a step farther in recently acquiring his own pet snake. Princess Buttercup is not some 12-inch-long Garter Snake in a little tank. Oh no, she is a long, heavy, gorgeous Ball Python. Every little boy's (and big boy's!) dream! It's hard to describe the delight when we got to meet Buttercup face-to-face.

 I'm not sure how long snakes will be at the forefront of Moses' interest, but it's really fun to be able to take something he's naturally interested in and "run with it." Yes, he can identify 500 different snake species and he's a walking encyclopedia of snake trivia, but that doesn't mean he's a prodigy. His interest has simply been captured by a certain subject and we've fed that interest with plenty of good books and toys (okay and some You Tube videos as well!)

It's one of the most satisfying and enjoyable parts of parenting, to see where your kids' interest leads them and to enhance that interest in healthy ways. I was blessed to have parents who did that incredibly well and I'm so happy to be doing it for my kids now!

One of many snake drawing adorning our fridge


What subjects have your kids become keenly interested in, and how have you cultivated that interest?


e&e said...

Oh, Melissa, this was a most terrible post for me to read. I had LOTS of scrolling and eye-closing to do! Yikes! I HATE snakes!

But I love that your little man has a passion.

On that note, next time we catch a snake here, would you like us to bring it to him? We've caught two (see my blog for pics) and are still in search of the third that got away.

You could ask Mo for me: Would two adult garter snakes be living in the same garden bed? How many babies would they have?

We found two adults in the exact same place within a week of each other. The third that got away was also in the same place, but it was a baby. Thoughts, Moses?


P.S. There were deadly snakes in Ohio were we lived, but I hated them even before that.

melissa said...

Oh no, Elisa! I'm sorry to give you the creeps with my post! Hopefully Joshy never gets a snake obsession. There are a couple kinds of bugs around here that I'm TERRIFIED of, so I understand.

I'll check with Moses about the Garter snakes and get back to you. =]

If you ever wanted to part with your snakes, Moses would love love love to become their new owner!! Maybe Richard could stop by after work to get them sometime.