Last night, as our unseasonably warm weather hovered above eighty degrees, I found myself standing barefoot in our driveway, hunched over corrugated plastic signs, spraypainting them orange.
J has been organized a 5k for an upcoming anti-human trafficking conference at the college, and part of that organization means making the signs to point the runners in the correct direction at every intersection. While he was in the basement cutting out a stencil for the words and arrows that would appear in black on each sign, I was dousing their backgrounds with orange–both the color of our local college and the color of freedom.
This simple act of spraypainting a dozen signs was enough to prompt the curiosity of a handful of neighborhood children.
Now, let me remind you that I was hot and gross-feeling to begin with, and on top of my swollen ankles and feet, and enormous abdomen, I was not the cheeriest of neighbors. But one little boy rode his bicycle down our driveway and jumped off of it, announcing, “You have a rabbit in your yard!”
I didn’t know this little boy, and his accent was so thick I had a slight difficulty understanding him. Luckily, I had seen an enormous rabbit in our yard that morning, so I was able to translate. “Yes, there are a few rabbits around here.” I kept painting.
And he kept standing there, watching my handiwork. Our neighbor’s son approached. They both stood there. Finally, I said, “You can go into our yard and look for it, if you want to.”
I thought this was the right thing to say to get rid of them. They bounded over to the yard. Whew.
Within the minute, our neighbor’s oldest daughter and a girl I didn’t know showed up. They asked what I was doing. I told them. More questions. More answers.
Then the boys came running back. “You have a garden snake over there!”
Ah, yes. I should have remembered the snake situation before sending the neighbor kids into the yard. J had warned me about seeing a snake or two recently. (I am going to be such a great mom.)
This is how the conversation progressed from there:
Me: “Yes, there are some snakes over there. But they’re more scared of you than you are of them.”
“If I had my bee bee gun, I could shoot it…”
Me: “Yes, you could. Potentially.”
“Is it a garter snake?”
“My dad says garter snakes bite.”
Me: “They can bite, but they’re not poisonous. It would just be a little pinch. Besides, snakes typically slither away from people. They don’t like us.”
“What kind of a race is this?”
“…or spray paint it orange…”
Me: “It’s a 5k.”
“I don’t like snakes, but I like worms.”
“My sister runs races.”
Me: “Worms are good for the soil.”
“…or chop off its head with a hatchet.”
Me: “Hey now, snakes are part of nature. They eat things that need to be eaten. Like mice.”
“I don’t like mice!”
“I like mice, but I don’t like rats!”
“Are you going to have a baby?”
I look down at my stomach. “I certainly hope so.”