Murder in the Backyard

The mistakes you can make while living in fear and how our children mirror our behavior. 

We bought our first home moving to this new duty station. We knew very little about the area but we trusted that our realtor would find the best for us. 

On our list was a good school district, close to base and a fenced in yard. A sturdy fence where our kids could go explore safe from any danger.

I wanted him DEAD!

One hot summer morning while my husband and I were doing yard work, I noticed something not quite right under the kids playhouse.

Holy cow! It was a snake!

Now, I have a deathly fear of snakes. The way they slither around gives me the creeps. I yelled to my husband to quickly grab a shovel. I wasn’t interested in finding out what kind of snake he was. I wanted him dead!

a story about love and acceptance

I couldn’t believe it. In my kids playhouse! What if they had gone in there? They were barefoot and still in pajamas. The thought of them being bitten scared me to death. The thought of them needing to go to the hospital, not knowing what kind had bitten them, drove me crazy.

Patrolling my Fence

Every morning after that, before they were allowed to play, I checked around the entire fence. I checked the playhouse. I boarded up any spaces in the fence and placed rocks over any holes in the yard. They were not to take one step outside until I gave the ok.

My fear of snakes quickly became a fear I gave to my children.

My oldest one in particular, who was five at the time. I knew that they would be back, but when?

One morning while patrolling my fence I had a bad feeling down in the pit of my stomach. My husband was at work and my oldest was now at school. It was just myself with my toddler. I went over to the playhouse and lifted up the play mat. He was back! 

An entire Army of Baby Snakes!

He looked right at me with his head lifted up to meet my eyes. I quickly ran to get my shovel and sliced that nightmare in half! I knew he wasn’t alone so I picked up the other play mat to find about five or six more. Now I was pissed! 

An entire army of baby snakes just waiting to grow up and bite my children’s ankles.

I wouldn’t allow that. 

So filled with hate and anger of them invading my home, I killed them. I killed them all!

A sigh of relive came over me. I did it. I was even proud of myself for handling the situation while my husband was at work. I decided I needed to find out just what kind of snakes I had killed. 

I took the shovel and scooped up the one that had looked me in the eye. Placing him on the mat to have a better look. He was small. Then I noticed he had tiny little feet.

He had tiny, little feet. 

a story about love and acceptance

I had Murdered a Family of Salamanders

I slowly sat down on the swing. I hadn’t killed a snake at all. This was a salamander.

I had murdered a family of salamanders. His big eyes had met mine but I was so filled with hate that I hadn’t taken a second to question what he was. 

Not only that, I killed his entire family.

I sat on the swing for a long time feeling ashamed of how happy I had once been by their death. How my fear had seeped into my children. How my hatred of snakes had become my daughter’s hatred of snakes. I had been wrong to judge so quickly.

Time to Let Go of Fear

It was time to change. I needed to learn more about this new state we lived it. I found out that there are 26 different kinds of snakes here but that only six of them are venomous. I started to familiarize myself with how to tell them apart. 

I found out that a prominent triangle head and fat body is a sign of a venomous snake and that a long slim snake is most likely non venomous. That a speckled king snake may look scary but that he eats venomous snakes.

I started to teach my daughter about them too. She knew to stay away from them but it was time to let go of the fear. 

One morning while we were at the zoo, we went to a show they were having. We learned all about vultures and penguins. Then they brought out the snakes. At the end of the show they invited you to come up and say hello. To my surprise my daughter was up there petting a snake.

Fear Leads to Hate

It’s easy to group things all the same and to hate them equally. Maybe it’s a fear of dogs or of spiders. 

Maybe it’s a fear of something much deeper than that. 

Maybe its someone who believes, loves or looks differently then yourself.

Fear leads to hate and hate in this world is a terrible thing.

The more I learned about snakes the less afraid I felt inside. Like everything else, snakes have a roll to play in this world. At the end of last summer while walking up the steps to my deck, I saw a garter snake slither underneath. 

I didn’t yell to my husband to get the shovel. I didn’t shout at my kids to run inside. I let him be to enjoy a nap under the deck in peace. 

And just last week, while exploring with the kids, we found a family of salamanders.

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