cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward

Despite some fairly decent rain and wind we decided to visit Ft. Desoto Park while we were in Tampa over break.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward
Just about everyone had headed back to the car as it was pretty chilly and fairly wet (in a Florida in winter kind of way- everything is relative). My oldest son and I hadn’t made it back yet when I came across a black rat snake. I debated not calling him back. It was cold and everyone else was ready to go.

While we have caught our fair share of creatures over time, he’d never caught a snake by himself1, let alone a pretty large one. This is a boy who grew up watching Steve Irwin2 and has been talking about catching snakes for forever. For most people, catching a snake is one of those things that’s easy to talk about but is much more intimidating when it actually comes down to doing it.

I could have caught the snake and handed it to him. I didn’t. This was his chance to do something he’d wanted to do on his own. There was a moment when I felt like that was a huge mistake because the snake almost made it into a long pipe and that would have been the end of that. At the last moment he grabbed its tail and pulled it back out. It was really interesting to see that tipping point. I do know he took control from there and was absolutely elated. The snake was released. Life moves on. Maybe this matters in the long term, maybe it doesn’t. That’s the hard thing about raising kids. You really don’t know what impact the thousands of choices you make every day will have. Would the snake escaping have had long range implications? Probably not but maybe. I’ll never know. I am glad we both took the risk.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward


1 We spend a lot of time in the woods and actually look for snakes but with four kids tromping about I think we are just too loud.

2 His techniques were perfect copies of Steve’s moves when handling poisonous snakes. He may/may not have lapsed into an Australian accent.

One thought on “By the Tail

Leave a Reply