Trial & Error- Tips & Advice For Parents – Be Brave, Not Stupid
It's great being a brave dad that's called upon to kill a spider, or called upon to reach high tt get a ball out of the tree. What happens when it's not a spider, but rather a snake that had to be at least 20 feet long?
That's the predicament I found myself in last week. I was walking down the street and around to the field behind our house to retrieve a baseball with my six-year old son, Logan, when I saw the biggest, meanest snake in the world. Neither of those statements are actually true, but when it comes to snakes I feel it's better safe than sorry. My son Logan is much like me. He didn't mind looking at the snake, as long as the snake kept its distance. I had Logan run inside to get his older brother, Tyler, who is very much NOT like me and is likely the long-lost love child of Steve Irwin. Tyler immediately began attempting to agitate the snake by rolling his baseball near it.
As the snake got into defensive position I couldn't help but think, "How do I keep Tyler away from the snake without looking like a coward?". There is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. If you'd like to see where that line gets crossed, simply spend a day in the ER. I was not about to be the guy laughed at on radio stations across the country that got bit by a poisonous snake because my son was taunting it. I was also not going to be the guy laughed at on radio stations across the country because he wet his pants with fear.
Fine line, folks.
My biggest problem with going anywhere near the snake was not knowing if it was poisonous. My grandfather always told me you could tell if a snake was poisonous by looking at its head. If it had a head bigger than its body, it was poisonous. If it had a narrow head, it wasn't poisonous. Of course, this is the same man that lied to me and told me I was great at baseball after seeing me play in a game, so clearly he wasn't able to be trusted 100% of the time. I was not about to die in the middle of the road with my kids watching. The secret is to have a plan in place should you run into one of these situations. I've put together a list of situations you might face as a father, and I've also included possible solutions to those situations.
1. Snake in the grass- This is a great opportunity to teach your kids to respect nature. Tell your children they should never approach a wild animal. The animal is threatened by our size and will attack you, even if you're approaching slowly. If you spot a snake in the yard, tell your children never to go near a snake, because it could be poisonous. Tell the kids that snakes just want to mind their own business and should be left alone. Move the kids inside to do something else while you get a shovel and decapitate that hideous creature.
2. Larger wildlife interaction- This is a lesson you'd like to begin teaching BEFORE you come across a mountain lion at BLORA. Teach your children about the food chain. Teach them that we're at the top of the food chain, but only in our own environment. Make sure your kids know the dangers of interacting with wildlife ahead of time so that when they see you running away while screaming like a frightened girl they'll know it's not about you being a coward. It's about not being the slowest person in your group so that you're not mountain lion dinner.
3. Spiders- I hate spiders more than snakes. Mainly because there are a lot more spiders than snakes, but also because spiders are so small you may never see what's bitten you. That, and the fact that they can be ANYWHERE!! The trick to looking brave in the case of a spider is smoke and mirrors. You must show a brave face. If you don't think you can put on a brave face, use it to your advantage. Before you're seen shaking like a 'Fraidy-Cat, turn it on the kids. "Oh, poor little boy can't kill a spider by himself... boo-hoo-hoo". Your child now thinks you're crying because you're making fun of him. Only you know the truth. The second part of smoke and mirrors is to make sure there are plenty of paper towels, or toilet paper, or a large book, or a military-grade flamethrower, between you and the spider you're about to kill. I've always been afraid the spider was going to jump up and bite me as I was coming in for the kill. You may look brave, but you know you've got 685 pages of Harry Potter book between you and that evil spider.
I hoped my life as a father, tip-toeing the line between bravery, stupidity and cowardice has helped you in your attempts to be the brave dad you've always wanted to be. As for my snake situation, after the novelty of seeing a snake in the middle of the road began to wear off I saw my opportunity to end the situation when a car pulled up. A guy hopped out and walked up to the snake and did some Mick Dundee action on it as he picked it up. The boys thought it was awesome that this guy was doing this. Did I miss the opportunity to be the "cool" dad that picked up a snake? That was the furthest thing from my mind at that moment, however, as I immediately took my phone out and filmed the encounter. I must admit that I was hoping something funny or awful would happen so I could send it into Tosh.0.
After fooling around with the snake the stranger began to release the snake on the side of the road. ON MY SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! That didn't happen. I made sure of that. The snake was put safely on the side of the road from where it came, and we all made a pact not to tell mom about the snake.