I am one of the few moms on the block who is not completely freaked out by mice. Or snakes. Or flatulence. I can't get a kid to school on time and the house is always a mess, but snakes? Meh.
Middle Son has a friend with a corn snake, and so, ergo, the son wanted a corn snake. I talked to my dad about how the son wanted a snake, and he was intrigued until I told him what the corn snake eats: Mice. Little frozen baby mice. And more than monogamy, sobriety, or people of other races and cultures, my dad hates mice.
When I was in fifth grade, everyone took turns taking Chester the Hamster home from school for the weekend. Chester was a cute little fluffy white hamster, but my dad really hated Chester, whom he referred to as "the Rat". Since I was in fifth grade and my sister was in second grade, I pulled rank and wouldn't let her hold Chester. She decided to do what any younger sister would do - she sneaked out of bed and held Chester while everyone was sleeping. And then she accidentally left the cage door open. Chester got out and the next time I saw Chester, my dad was trying to kill him with a ski pole in the closet of our storage room. Luckily, crisis was averted and I recovered Chester for the school.
Another time, Dad drove about 24 hours to our house to visit, and I complained about a peculiar smell in the kitchen. The house was built in 1900, so peculiar smells will happen, but when it got worse I started tearing the kitchen apart. When I found a dead mouse under my stove, Dad packed up and left two days early. He literally stayed in the house about two more hours after I found the mouse, and couldn't do it. Bye, grandkids! See you when you're in college!
Another time, when CH and I were visiting Mom and Dad in Texas, Dad told us about finding dog food nuggets in the back hallway near his shoes. He wondered aloud if perhaps mice were moving it. Always looking for ways to screw with Dad, CH and I left a few dog food nuggets in the hallway, causing Dad to look for an entry point for mice. He narrowed the culprit down to a small gap in the garage door. Before we left to drive home, I filled one of Dad's shoes with dog food. CH and I laughed and laughed all the way home about our prank, and when we got home we called and said, "So, what did you do today?" and Dad said, "I went out and bought a new garage door. Those mice were getting bad." We looked at each other, got off the phone quickly, and never confessed.
Dad couldn't understand the need for a corn snake. "Don't most people try to avoid snakes in their homes?" They live in southern Texas, and the game warden has been to their house more than once to remove five foot snakes from various places in their house. "And those mice? Nothing good comes from bringing mice in your house, even if they are dead."
Having Cy the Snake eat mice has never really bothered me. They come in cute little plastic pouches, so I never see them. Once, when I was paying for something in a store, I reached in my purse and accidentally pulled out a packet of "pinkies", which are the baby frozen mice. I had purchased them the night before, and forgot to put them in the freezer, so I was walking around with thawed baby mice in my purse. Ish. The clerk wasn't too thrilled either.
Last week, Cy the Snake DID do something that bothered me - he made the Son cry. The Son had moved Cy up from eating "pinkies" to eating "hoppers", which are more like teenage frozen mice. Cy had a bulge in his tummy, and the Son decided to take Cy outside for some fresh air. A short time later, CH and I are talking and we hear the horrible sound of the Son crying in panic, "MOM! Mom! Come quick! Oh Cy! Cy!" We ran to the back door, and here he comes, Cy writhing around in his hands, and he yells, "Cy threw up on the porch! I think he's going to die!"
Let me make one thing clear. I got the snake because he was supposed to be low maintenance. It's hard enough watching George the Superpet walk around all sad because we are terrible people and don't walk him. But the snake? Get in yer glass tank and shut up. Now that we have the snake, I have to make weekly mouse runs, make sure he has water, find a summer location for him so he can burrow, and now apparently I have to clean up his puke. Who friggin' knew snakes puke?
CH looked at me like "I call dibs!", took the Son by the arm and said, "Let's get Cy upstairs and into some water." As they're walking away, he looks back over his shoulder at me, like "Sucka!", and this is how I know I'm getting stuck cleaning the puke.
I walk onto the porch. George looks up from where he is smelling the puke and gives me a "wasn't me" look. There, at his feet, is a puke worthy of a cat or a very small dog, which came out of a snake the thickness of my pinky finger. Even worse, I can see that it is basically a fully hydrated mouse covered in slime. I look at the mouse and I sigh, and then I clean it up with great reluctance.
As I used forty paper towels to pick up my half digested friend, my dad's voice echoed in my head, "Nothing good comes from bringing mice in your house, even if they are dead." Perhaps, just this once, Father knows best. Cy the Snake lived, but the next time we get a pet in this house, we are going retro, and buying a Pet Rock.