To properly tell the story of our Easter weekend, we have to start with the events from last Thursday. Ed and I had gotten emails from an old family of Ed’s inviting us out to their family’s country house and that some of the family would be out there for Easter celebrations. Spring has been busy for us in part because of Ed’s acting schedule (I feel so suave saying it like that!) and the boy’s baseball schedule. Ed and his friend emailed back and forth a few dozen times and originally decided that our best time to come out would be Friday afternoon once the boys got out of school and then we’d have to leave in time for Ed to be ready for his play. Basically, we would have driven almost two hours to enjoy one hour of time with them, but on Thursday, that looked like our best opportunity.
So Thursday evening, we have just formed these plans. Baseball practice got cancelled because of rain, so we got to relax a bit as a family before Ed had to go in for his play. My mother knows how much I dislike being by myself so she came over to visit for a bit Thursday evening after I had put the boys down for bed. The boys are not deterred by being placed in bed and having the lights turned out, so they get up whenever they want or whenever they hear something interesting. This usually means that they sleep with every single book that they own. Thursday night, it meant that they heard their Oma and came down the stairs to see her. We told Oma about our big plans to go to the country on Friday and, as usual, Oma was full of useful advice. The immediately told the boys they would have to watch out for snakes because snakes would be swarming all over the ground out in the country, waiting for a tasty morsel of little boy leg. She also told the boys that all snakes are poisonous and they would die an instant death once they were bitten, because it is a foregone conclusion that they would be bitten. So in a matter of thirty seconds, my mother had my children terrified. I yelled, “Mother!” and she looked at me like I had sprouted horns.
“What?” she said. “I’m just trying to prepare them for what they’re going to see.”
“Mom, I have been out there plenty of times and have never seen a snake. They are going to be staying by the house. Besides, the snakes will be more scared of them and will be staying away from the hustle and bustle of the house.”
“They need to know what they might see though.”
The boys are now terrified and just staring at us, their heads moving back and forth like they are watching a tennis match. Yes, I realize I’ve changed verb tense and I’m leaving it. I’ll probably be changing verb tense several dozen times as I don’t like being constrained.
“Preparing them for what they might see is one thing. Telling them they are going to die from a poisonous snake bite is another thing entirely!”
My mother started laughing so hard she had tears rolling down her cheeks.
I told the boys to go back to bed before their grandmother scared them with any more fabrications and they started up the stairs. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, my mother yelled out, “You’ve got to watch out for the coyotes too!”
“Mother!” I yelled. It was pointless because they were terrified and she was rendered speechless because of her laughter. The boys went to sleep and she left shortly after that. The first thing they asked when they woke up was about the snakes and their poisonous nature and whether or not they were going to be bitten. The questions stopped quickly though because I dropped the boys off at school and just hoped they would forget about the snakes.
I picked the boys up from school at 3:00 that afternoon and we met Ed at the house to go out to the farm, but there were ominous clouds filling the sky. Ed called his friend to ask about the weather in the country. We decided to put off the visit until Saturday afternoon after the boys baseball game. So the boys and I spent an uneventful evening at home Friday while Ed went to his second to last performance for the community theater. (I was definitely on the count down for the end of the play.)
Saturday morning, we all got up in time to get the boys to their baseball game (more on the games later) which they “tied.” I packed a bag of clothes for them and we left town to go to the farm directly after the game ended. We got out to the farm at 2:30 that afternoon and had a late lunch from the spread they had put out. The boys were reintroduced to Ed’s friend’s boys. As little boys often do, they were fast friends and took off to play outside. Introductions almost seem pointless. It’s not like the boys are going to talk about anything other than deciding what they’re going to play and if they need rules for the game.
Here’s where the pictures start because the farm is just amazing. There was a tire swing big enough for all four boys, another swing hanging from a tree (pictured here), a stock pond, baseball equipment, and no traffic so all of the boys were unusually free to roam. I know I said earlier that the boys would be near the house, but they stayed on the freshly mown part of the yard. That counts, doesn’t it? There was always a parent nearby.
Trip enjoyed the swing immensely. I have no idea where the other boys are in this picture. It’s part of my parenting awesomeness.
Ed took all of the boys on a joy ride and I’m still not sure who had more fun. They rode up and down the driveway at top speed at least a dozen times. That’s not something you can usually say without someone else thinking you’re an idiot because who can drive top speed on a driveway. The “drive way” is about a mile long. All five of those guys were whooping and hollering.
One of the odd things about little boys who are having fun together is that they often refuse to stand together and pose for pictures.
And then we come to the fun part of my story.
I had left the boys with Ed, I think. They were being watched by someone. An adult. I promise. I hope. Anyway, I went off to walk by myself around the back of the house because the scenery was just gorgeous and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. I slowly meandered my way about and ended up on the west side of the house. The master bedroom is on the west side of the house and has French doors leading to a covered porch. I saw the other boys’ mother just inside the door with her younger son and she gesture frantically at me. I looked at where she was pointing and realized I was going to have to eat the words I had said to my mother two days prior. I had even told the other women about my mother scaring my boys with tales of poisonous snakes and they, who had lived there and visited for a couple of decades, agreed that they had not seen any snakes up by the house and that the boys should be fine. So there on the side porch, mere feet from me, was a huge snake! I backed away from the snake and whipped out my iPhone to take a picture. I snapped off one picture before the three 6 year old boys came running around the side of the house to check out the snake. My boys are now irritated with me because I didn’t take a video of the snake. Ed’s friend came quickly behind the boys with an old machete and determined that our snake was a chicken snake and not poisonous. Because the chicken snake was not poisonous, he was ushered off the porch and quickly made his way under the siding of the house.
And really, I could’ve handled seeing a two or three-foot long snake and not worrying about eating my words with my mother. Three foot garter snake–big deal! That thing was six feet long! Someone had to look at the snake closely to make sure it wasn’t poisonous! And, it was right there on the porch like it owned the damned house!
You know what really happened? My mother jinxed us. She brought the snake out with her portentous prophecy. I think she did it on purpose.
The raccoon walked up later that evening like he owned the place. All of the boys watched him for a bit, but he wasn’t quite as entertaining as the snake.
There was much more to this Easter weekend, but I’ve written a novel at this point and I’ll save the rest for later. I hope y’all had a Happy Easter!