On Getting a Snake (and Possibly New Friends and Family)

I’m so excited to introduce you to Isabelle, the newest member of our family.

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Isabelle is a Kenyan Sand Boa who enjoys snuggling and long walks on the beach. She’s really a darling. Also, she might be a boy, but whatever.

Of course, naming Isabelle proved to be a HUGE challenge. 

Greg wanted to name her “If you even think about putting her in our bedroom, I’m moving out,” and “no, seriously; I’m moving out,” and “of the house,” and “what part of I’m leaving you is hard to understand?” but I thought those were unwieldy names for a baby snake. Greg’s not very good at this.

I wanted to name her Fluffy, but my 1st graders thought that was the stupidest snake name ever, so I told them they were the stupidest ever. No, I didn’t. OK; yes, I did, but I assessed ahead of time that they’d understand I was kidding and would find it funny rather than hurtful, and I was right, so HA! Unfortunately, I failed to fully understand the implications of handing 1st grade boys the “Oh yeah? Well, you’re the stupidest ever” weapon, but my boys are driving the point home, one stupid sword thrust at a time, so if it offends you that I’d say such a thing to 7 year olds, you can go ahead and smuggly congratulate yourself on the natural consequences being heaped upon my stupid head.

The 7 year olds wanted to name her Radioactive or Sunshine. 

The 12 year old cried because Isabelle isn’t a unicorn

The 14 year old was sad because he still misses his fish. The one who died 4 years ago. Which is why, he explained to me, he was unable to finish his laundry room chores last night. The grief was just too much.

The 15 year old said she’s moving out with her father.

Having a new family member is an emotional adjustment. 

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Our friends suggested we name Isabelle Satan, Lucifer, or Beelzebub. Or Bob. Or Trouser or Inthegrass. Or Houdini. 

My cousin Leslie started a pool so the extended family can bet on how long it’ll take before we lose her or she escapes. 

Obviously, my 1st graders and I are scheduling interviews for new friends and family. Please feel free to apply below by answering any or all of the following questions:

1. What’s your tolerance for weirdos? (psst… High, Very High or Extremely High are all acceptable answers)
2. How do you feel about super sweet, darling, snuggly snakes?
3. Would you ever call your mama a stupidhead? What if she started it and she was, in fact, being a stupidhead?

Thank you for your time.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
26 comments
  1. I had pet rats when I was a teen so my tolerance for odd pets is high, but having enjoyed rats my desire for a snake was greatly decreased having learned the big ones eat rats… and what’s the point of a snake if it’s not big enough to be terrifying. As far as what I’m willing to take on as a mother results in me buying pet fish for my little girls. And my mother? No I would never call her a stupidhead.

  2. 1. What’s your tolerance for weirdos? (psst… High, Very High or Extremely High are all acceptable answers)

    Extremely Very High… Weirdos = fun and interesting and usually non-judgmental.

    2. How do you feel about super sweet, darling, snuggly snakes?

    Love them… When I was 10, I had a garter snake named Dusty (after my favorite soap opera character/crush – never stopped to wonder if maybe my snake was actually a girl) that only ate fish, which was a problem because Dusty had a shallow water bowl and I have a phobia about fish touching me… Feeding Day was a royal pain and my mother (aka The Feeder / Phobic-Child Wrangler) was a trooper. For the last 13 years, I’ve had a freakishly-large corn snake named Gypsy who is a confirmed girl and a total sweetheart. Even when we don’t handle her regularly, she remains tame and eager to cuddle. Congrats on your new family member!

    3. Would you ever call your mama a stupidhead? What if she started it and she was, in fact, being a stupidhead?

    I might, but might also feel guilty and apologize later. 🙂

  3. I laughed and hooted at this. You are in rare form! And I await with interest the outcome of the family pool. 😉

  4. Snakes *rock*!!! I’d totally come over for playing with your new pet, and my kids all would, too.

    My 15-yo found a garter snake at the park a week ago, and carried it around to all of the 3-dozen kids playing there to show them. It was awesome.

    We’ll be your friends! (You’ll have to come visit us in Pittsburgh, though, and bring your snake along. Roadtrip?)

  5. Oh my gosh, we can totally, totally be friends. Snakes make great pets, though we don’t happen to have one and since there are poisonous and bad tempered ones in Florida, we observe but don’t handle snakes in our yard. Jim and Greg would have a fine time congratulating themselves for their undying love of us in all our weirdness over beers.

    Unless, of course, your weirdness includes pet hissing cockroaches. Because cockroaches are nasty, and giant extra speedy angry noisy cockroaches are the stuff nightmares are made of.

    Though I suppose you could feed them to the snake….

  6. 1. All of the weirdo’s in Australia are in either my family or my husband’s family. Normal people are boring; weird people are way more interesting.

    2. The only good snakes are the ones shaped like wallets, belts, shoes etc. Of course the only snakes I grew up with were Death Adders, Taipans etc so that might explain the absolute panic I feel whenever I see a snake.

    3. A mother is NEVER a butthead, she is simply a responsible parent who is taking the opportunity to challenge her children’s unreasonable prejudices against interesting behaviors … maybe.

  7. In all fairness to at least one of your friends/family, I suspect your seven-year-olds are going to be a lot more behind the name Trouser here in about five years.

  8. My son had a snake (albeit a fake stuffed plush one – which is as close as I plan to get to a snake) and he named it Hoppy. Which like Fluffly is both comical and ironic, although he didn’t realize it since he was 5. Hoppy just seemed like a good name for a snake to him. Good luck. Keep the top on that aquarium!

  9. 1- tolerance for weirdos – they’d blend around here. I agree with MamaJedi above that weirdos are those trying to act “normal”.
    2- LOVE snakes. In HS I took home the pet snake for the summer, I loved her and held her and fed her worms and gave her drinks from an eyedropper – she was about 14″ long, little brown grass snake we named Camilla Our Baby Snake. Then she had babies of her own. My Mom as all OMG and I was all AWWWW and that was totally cool, but then they died when school started back up and I felt so bad. Naturally I let my kids catch green anole lizards in the back yard and we ended up keeping them – they lived a good 4-5 years and have about $1.00/week cricket habit. lol I was the one who held and dealt with them all the time, kids just viewed them. ?! What can I say, I’m an equal opportunity animal lover. We have fish and a dog and that’s it now.
    3- I think my mom was being a stupidhead about Camilla having babies, but she was cool to let me keep her over the summer in the house, so I never called her names. All moms have their stupidhead moments, we’re around children, what do you expect??
    Love the pix, I’d name her Sandy. 🙂

  10. *Shudder* No matter how small, I do not like snakes.

  11. I think I’ll be friends with Greg instead. I love weirdos. Snakes not so much.

  12. 1. Our family is weird, abnormal. Dinner discussions in high school were about what we dissected in anatomy or my mom’s work as an OB delivery nurse. These grossed out dad. My husband says I collect weirdos for friends.

    2. I love reptiles. I grew up with lizards. Cats, rats, snakes, and lizards are allowed as pets; dogs are not allowed.

    3. Who knows what I called my mother during my teen rages. My teen currently calls me crazy and weird.

  13. 1.very extremely maximum high. In fact, there is no such thing as weirdo in this house!!!

    2. I LOVE your new addition!!! I have wanted one of those (not exactly like her, but one in her species range) for SO very long. I can’t get anybody in my family to cooperate. So I’m stuck with the fluffy, furry, and fishy pets. Which is good, but still not slithery. Slithery is awesome.

    3. My mama wasn’t much fun when I was little. She tries to fuss at me now when I call my kids little poop-noses. I tell her that’s much better than some OTHER things I could call them, and then she just gets all horrified and stuff, but it makes her drop it, so I call it good.

  14. 1) My children (17, 22, 24, and 27) tell their friends that they have a crazy family – so, since they are the reason we are crazy, I guess I have a pretty high tolerance for weirdo.
    2) Nope – sorry, noooo snakes! Having a dog is bad enough! Heck, having 4 kids was bad enough – then we added the dog!
    3) It is quite possible I’ve called my mom the equivalent of “stupid head” but, heck, at our ages – she 80, me 56 – I imagine we have been pretty stupid headed quite often!

    1. Snakes are WAY easier than kids and dogs. Am considering trading mine in for more snakes.

  15. 1. Extremely high. A weirdo in a family of weirdos here and proud of it 😉
    2. Love snakes- we had an albino ratsnake named Elvis
    3. I HAVE called my mama a butthead and a stupidhead but I’m pretty sure she called me those names first.
    We’re well known for our maturity around here.

    You could all her Connie- short for anaconda?

  16. 1. Very high!
    2. If your family completely rebels, she can come live at my house. She’s beautiful and I want to snuggle her!
    3. Nope, but my mama wouldn’t get the joke.

  17. You say snakes and all I want to do is talk in my best Harry Potter accent and ask him how he is.

    As far as tolerance goes, I’ll be asking you the same question.

    Snakes and I get along fine if they keep their fangs to themselves.

    My daughter is 2, so nothing is off the table. My mama rocks and I’m sure I’ve called her worse. =D

    1. My tolerance for weirdos is Extremely High. I love weirdos. The weirder, the better. 🙂

      P.S. Isabelle doesn’t show us her fangs.

  18. i have 3 boys, so my dial is constantly turned to the highest frequency of WEIRDO. I’ve even grown to giglle at bodily functions, if you consider that “growth”. My 7 year old son certainly does.
    I’m pretty sure super sweet and snuggly won’t be found in the dictionary when you look up snakes, but I can tolerate them when in a cage. I’ve been known to do quite a jig when finding them in the grass, however.
    I would never call my mama a stupidhead, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been close to earning the name myself. Don’t ask my sons to confirm, there is no need.
    And for a name, I can’t think of a better name than Monty, whether it’s a python or not! Neeeee!

    1. Fart jokes really are the best. I’m with your son; giggling at bodily functions is a must.

  19. Love your new pet! We have a snake too (a ball python) and had a lot of “fun” during the name choosing process. He got the very boring name of Viper after much discussion – not MY pick for the record, lol.

    So:

    Tolerance for weirdos: high (not that I think you qualify!)
    Feel about snakes: Do not think they are cuddly, but actually have grown to like having a snake as a pet. Nice and low maintenance compared to dogs anyway. I even do the live-mouse feedings and am okay with it. And it does sleep in my room, which gave me nightmares at first, but no longer.
    I would never, ever, ever call my mama a stupidhead, but my boys might 😉

  20. I’m with Greg and Abby. You guys will LOVE New England.

    Doors open anytime and we have NO creatures in this house (mostly b/c we’re completely incapabale of keeping them alive)

    Heather

    1. Ooh! Are you coming to New England?

  21. Fluffy is the name of a 23 foot python at the Columbus Zoo. I think it is a GREAT name for a snake (as long as I am on the other side of the glass). So I guess that brings me to the questions: 1. Weirdos? the only weirdos I’ve seen are those who are pretending to be “normal”. 2. If I ever see a super sweet, darling, snuggly snake I’ll let you know, until then I’ll leave with Greg and your 15-yr-old. (however my 18-yr-old is jealous and would love to join you). 3. I’m sure I often thought it during my teenage years, but now that I have teenagers (who I am sure think I am one) I respect her memory way too much!

  22. 1. Kinfolk! Separated at birth!

    2. Must you ASK? I will pet her and love her and squeeze her and call her…I’ll get back to you on the last part.

    3. My mama is often a butthead. My children’s mama, however, is never a butthead, even when she appears to be acting like one.

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