After my serious post on classroom set up, here’s a second reality check. Stuff happens.
I had just made my early arrival at school, entering my self-contained classroom from the outside door. I was startled to discover two people standing just inside the interior door, staring down at the carpet. The custodian and a resource teacher were in the wrong place. They continued to stare at the floor. I also stared at the floor and saw a snake. It was in the wrong place. The science lab was two doors down the hall. I recalled hearing that a snake had escaped, but that was ages ago.
“This snake has to go,” I said firmly, knowing that my special population of students, kids with emotional and behavioral disabilities, did not need a snake slithering around their feet. The custodian said equally firmly, “I’m not touching that thing!” The teacher backed away and said, “Neither am I!”
An unspoken battle of wills between the four of us, but wouldn’t you know? A snake- handling tip popped into my mind from nowhere: You must grab a snake by its neck. Another tip surfaced: You get one shot.
“OK,” I said. “I’ll get it.” I knew it wasn’t poisonous, right? And it hadn’t moved a millimeter since I had walked up. I edged closer, made a furious grab, and had that little baby by the neck. That baby came to life instantly, writhing exactly like a snake, and I held it at arm’s length and started toward the hallway.
And wouldn’t you know? The custodian and teacher took off! I yelled, “Hey! I need you to open the science lab!” By that time, I was at the lab door. The snake grew increasingly impatient with the custodian, who was jangling his keys somewhere behind me. I didn’t know snakes could sweat, but this one got quite moist and irritated. I think that snake must have counted to 100 before the custodian opened the door and backed off. “Hey!” I yelled. “Lift up the lid!” The snake was barely able to wait as the custodian s-l-o-w-l-y lifted the lid to a cage and ran out. I swear I could see the relief on that snake’s face when it was safely back home.
After that, wouldn’t you know? If any creature, wild or domesticated, was loose at that school, I was called to retrieve it. I figured I was safe from any more desperate wildlife rescues when we finally reached the last teacher workday of the year. But wouldn’t you know? I was cleaning up when I heard an ear-piercing scream from the 3rd grade teacher next door. And we had cinder block walls between us. My son, a teaching orphan, tagged along as I ran into the class. The teacher was still shrieking, something about a snake in the spelling books. Apparently this one had been brought for show-and-tell, got lost, and was presumed to have found its way home. Now it was extremely grouchy. I had those two snake-handling tips in my mind, but this snake was a moving target, which made it hard to see where his neck started. I sent my son back to my room for a pillow case (yes, I always have a spare pillow case), just in case this snake got too sweaty.
The teacher and my son gave me plenty of distance. So did the snake. It was moving fast in the wrong direction. I made a frantic grab and my hand wrapped around it, not as close to its neck as I would have preferred. It had an amazingly long neck. For a snake that hadn’t eaten in a month, it was quite agile and strong. I think it had anger issues because it was doing its best to sink those teeth into my wrist. “Give me the pillowcase!” I screamed. This snake had to count to 150 before the pillowcase was close enough for me to snatch, and believe me, this snake got sweatier than the first one. Then it jumped around in that pillowcase and counted to 200 while I screamed for someone to open the back door. And wouldn’t you know? When I released it in the woods next to the playground, it didn’t even say thank you.