Today’s Lesson: Don’t Name Wild Animals

I’m accustomed to one kid or another besting the alarm in the morning… creeping up in the darkness to utter a buzzer-beating declaration like, “The toilet’s stopped up but don’t worry, I fixed it.”

We haven’t had many of these lately since Hadley — our resident early-riser — discovered how to operate the remote control. Cartoon Network keeps her quiet, and my alarm and snooze button are back in business.

But not this morning. Today Cayden padded in and leaned up to my head so I wouldn’t miss a word. “Hey Mom, I was watching tv in the basement and I saw Blackie and I petted him.”

Apparently Cayden got the jump on the black snake that winters in our basement. Blackie isn’t used to the flood of lights so early in the morning, so he slithered back up the wall by the play area and crawled back into the foundation crevice. But not before Cayden caught up with him.

“Martin, are you hearing this?” I said, sitting up in bed.

“Cayden, just because we call that snake ‘Blackie’ doesn’t mean he’s a pet. He’s a wild animal.”

“I know Dad. I didn’t say he was a pet. I said I petted him. And not his head, only his tail.”

Well hey, that’s reassuring. Thanks kid, no need for the snooze button this morning.

Blackie keeps to himself, but in spring sheds his skin in the cellar.