Friday, April 29, 2016
That Time Emma Fought A Snake. And Won.
When we were just a family of three with our little Matthew, I became very adept at dealing with a child whose list of fears was longer than Santa's "Naughty List." Loud noises of any type, the dark, big dogs, small dogs, bath water, running water, any type of water, sand, mashed potatoes...I'm telling you, the list was endless. We still have to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for a gigantic breakdown from Matthew on the 4th of July because the noise from the fireworks are too much for him to handle. We only survived last year because we gave him hunting ear plugs that cancelled out most of the noise, enabling him to enjoy the sights of the fireworks without the scary booms and hisses. When we had Emma, we were prepared to rear a child with similar fears and worries as her big brother. However, we soon discovered that Emma has absolutely no fear.
Emma's courage is mostly a good thing, although it has resulted in a couple hairy situations. She has attempted to pet a few dogs that were less than friendly, although their rabid barking failed to deter her from extending her hand out to every animal she spies. This is the reason she has been bitten by a goat, a llama, a horse, and (almost) a hog. The first time I took her to Lake Erie, she quickly ran into the surf and was almost overcome by a wave. While that moment completely terrified me and nearly convinced me to never ever bring the kids near a body of water again, Emma's love of the water never waned. For the most part, I admire and enjoy her tough, edgy demeanor and wouldn't change it for the world.
Emma's courage is pretty limitless and we recently discovered that this applies even to slithering reptiles that make both her father and brother cringe. Paul's greatest fear, other than spiders and worms of unusual size, is of snakes. To illustrate this point, Paul and I encountered a snake while taking a walk on our honeymoon and Paul instantly dropped the hand of his new bride and went bolting the opposite direction down the path. Let's just say, Paul's daughter is a bit more brave than that.
A couple weeks ago, the weather was so warm and enticing that we decided to head out to the woods for an afternoon hike. The trail is rustic and winds throughout several woods, creeks, and gorges. Emma insisted on walking all by herself for the first time - we would normally carry her in backpack carrier hoisted high on Paul's shoulders. Paul's back was thankful for the reprieve. Emma started out strong on our hike, but soon was distracted by all the new, blooming flowers and began to dawdle because she was more interested in picking an impressive bouquet than continuing onward. Paul stayed behind to encourage Emma to walk faster while Matthew, Lucy, and I went on ahead.
As Matthew and I approached a curve in the trail, we spied a group of teenagers huddled around something off to the side. They were pointing, taking pictures with their iphones, and shouting, "A snake! Oh gross! A snake!" I hurried up ahead to see for myself (and also because I wanted to be sure that they were not planning on harming the snake) and found a snake holding a frog by its leg. The poor frog was chirping loudly as it struggled, but the snake had such a strong hold on it that the poor thing could not get away. I can't begin to describe what sad, desperate sounds that frog was making, almost as if it was begging us for help. The teenagers were laughing and remarking that this was "the perfect example of Natural Selection at work." (Ehh...not really, but I didn't think this was an appropriate "teachable moment".)
Anyway, it was about this time that Paul and Emma caught up with us. I was looking around for a stick to use to try to free the frog from the snake. Before I could find one, Emma had shoved her way to the front to see what all the commotion was about. When she took one look and saw the poor frog desperately trying to escape, she immediately bent down and grabbed the frog, pulling him away from the snake: "Let go you bad snake! Let go of the frog!" The snake would not give up it's prey, and Emma was in a veritable tug-of-war. I gently told her to let go out of fear that between the two of them, the frog would end up with a broken limb. Paul then took a stick and lightly snapped it against the tail of the snake. At the impact, the snake let go of the frog and Emma once more got in there and scooped up the poor frog and cradled it gently, "It's ok, you poor frog. I have you!" The frog stayed as still as could be. We then moved the snake off the path and then went in search of a creek where we could safely drop the frog off.
We finally found a creek opening just off the path and Emma set the frog down gently in the water. The little frog immediately took off swimming in little circles, so happy to finally be free and safe. He swam a quick lap and then came close to the edge of the water where it sat, staring at us solemnly, almost as if it were thanking us for the rescue.
Suddenly, as we were wishing it goodbye, a noise came from the brush behind us and a biker appeared at the top of the ravine, speeding towards us. We quickly jumped out of the way but then watched in horror as the biker seemed intent on crossing the creek at the shallow point where our poor frog friend still sat.
I know what you must be thinking. After all that...the frog then gets squished by the biker? Thankfully, no...the biker missed him by mere inches. After the biker passed, Emma asked fearfully, "Daddy, did the biker squish my frog?" After that, we encouraged the frog to swim towards deeper, safer waters by nudging him a bit and then he was off! Free to live another day.
Paul and I were both so proud of how courageous our little Emma was that day. She was so determined to save the life of that frog and a scary snake was certainly not going to deter her from that mission. I love my tough little girl, but I think I need to start teaching her a couple things about snakes. I don't want her to try petting a rattler next.