Bullied by a Copperhead Snake
It was dusk but in the Kansas basement there was less light than outside the garage door where Dad was doing the bar-b-que. In 1959 I was ten years old, happily playing outside in the sultry summer evening when I ran into the basement to get a jump rope. Without turning a light on, it was hard to see what was what.
I grabbed the rope and was heading back into the sultry evening when something caught my eye near the floor. A copperhead snake was hissing, its sharp-looking tongue’s silhouette reflected off the dimly lit basement concrete floor. At second glance which was a very direct look, I became frozen, literally, in my tracks as the copper head raised up as if in a movie while an unseen flute player beckoned it away from the floor. Much to my horror, it was hissing, rising up and coming toward me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.
An eternity passed on those seconds. Fear of death surrounded and filled me. I thought I was a goner. My voice was gone. I couldn’t speak. Then, as if in a hypnotic trance with a directive from the hypnotist, my body was able to jump backward in baby-step-jumps. Each time my whole stiff body did a baby-jump backwards, the snake followed suit. For an onlooker it would have appeared as some kind of choreographed snake-and-scared-girl-dance. I noticed the wall was about to meet my back which would not allow me to jump back any farther. I remember a feeling of something rushing into my head. It must have been adrenalin.
The next thing I knew there was a scream that seemed to project out of my mouth like projectile vomit. It even scared me because I didn’t know it was going to happen. Perhaps my body’s instincts acted on their own. A bloody-murder kind of scream, “DADDDDDDDDD” alerted my bar-b-queing dad. He ran into the basement, quickly saw what was happening, grabbed the hoe and chopped the snake in two. It collapsed onto the cool concrete floor, dead as a doornail.
With the chopping and dropping of the Copperhead snake, I felt myself breathe again. My body felt stiff from being frozen in fear. That night I thought my Dad was truly Superman. He saved my life and went quickly back to the bar-b-que.
Children and stress go hand in hand. Parenting young children should, in my passionate thoughts, always include basic stress management skills that bring calm self-control into focus. If I’d had that training as a preschooler, I truly don’t believe I would have had a near-death-fear-frozen experience that night and could have saved my own life. You never know when that might come in handy! And I would have felt like a Superkid but am glad Dad got to be Superman since I didn’t have the power myself!