With a little convincing and fatherly reassurance that we would not get in trouble they agreed to help me scare their mom. Our plan was for them to give my wife kisses and hugs as soon as she came home and then make their way to the back yard. I would draw my wife’s attention to them and as we made our way out one of the girls would pick up the snake and scream bloody murder. It would be fun.
We rehearsed the plan a couple of times, and I had just sat back down at the computer again as my wife opened the door. Mischievous excitement made my heart pound as I nonchalantly welcomed her home. My youngest blurted out, “We found a fake snake.” My heart sank. The plan was ruined. I wondered why God hadn’t blessed me with more devious girls. But, I realized that my wife hadn’t responded to it. In all the commotion and chaos she had missed it. Hope held out – we could still pull this off. Bah ahh ahh (evil laugh).
With wide eyes first looking at my girls and then out towards the backyard and little head nods to match, I hinted to the girls to go take the stage. The subtleties of my head bobbing hints were lost on them. I got frustrated with having to work with a 6 and 7 yr old, and I was beginning to wonder if we would ever be able to pull this off. I resorted to directness, “Girls why don’t you go out in the backyard and play. It’s a gorgeous day.”
My wife and I talked in the kitchen. I glanced out the window.
“That’s not a . . . snake . . . is it?” (bait taken – hook set). This was the easy part. I steadily made my way to the patio door. With my wife on my heals, I could feel her palpable frustration at my less than quick pace.
I gave out a familiar, “Girls what are you do . . .” I was abruptly over-volumed by my wife. As soon as she hit the door she started yelling at the girls to come to her. They stood there just as planned adding to her panic. Like a veteran Shakespearian actor I played the scene and added a panicked, “It is a snake!” At this my wife launched into nuclear hysteria mode – it was great.
Picture in your mind a perfectly linear scene. At one end is a venomous viper threatening the lives of two precious little girls. At the other end, up on the deck, is a hysterical mother alerting the entire neighborhood with her screams. On a direct line between the two is a ‘brave’ man, doing too little too slow as far as the wife’s concerned. Lastly are the two girls looking absolutely bewildered.
The intensity of my wife’s hysteria had jolted the girls from the plan. They were sure they were in trouble, and that this was no longer a ‘funny’. I, on the other hand, was slowly walking towards them encouraging, “Pick it up. Pick it up,” at a low enough volume so as to not give anything away. Processing the confusion they finally went with the parent closest in proximity. They picked it up.
I screamed, feigned panic, and ran for the stairs leaving the girls out in the yard holding the snake – the exact opposite of my wife wanted me to do. Nuclear hysteria does not begin to describe that state that my wife was in. With her 7 yr old little girl holding up a poisonous three foot snake (that looked all too alive) and her yellow-bellied husband running for the stairs she absolutely flipped out. The plan had worked better than I could’ve hoped for.
It all ended with me and the girls rolling around in the grass laughing so hard we almost passed out, and my wife laughing as she punched me in the shoulder over and over again.