Cake and Snakes

So last weekend, Cousin M had a birthday, and he turned eight.

Which is REALLY hard for me to take, because where did that TINY BABY GO?  And because when M was born, my boy was on the very brink of being three, and he was not even completely out of diapers then.

Because potty training was the one event that almost killed me dead.  I was plum convinced that the boy would be married in a black tuxedo and Pampers, and I distinctly remember throwing my hands up high in the air on the 4th of July and telling Hubs, “I give up!  I don’t care if he ever learns to use a toilet properly!  I QUIT! I QUIT! I QUIT!”  And then I flopped on the sofa and gave in to the hysterical sobs that let Hubs know that indeed!  I was a mere two inches away from a full-on, nervous breakdown caused by fighting an almost-three-year-old boy over potty etiquette.  I may have scared Hubs just a bit, because he wasn’t sure how to console the Ugly Cry that had a bucket of snot pouring down my face.

And, people, I DID give up.  I put the boy back in a pair of Pampers, and I refused to lure him into the bathroom with the promise of red M&Ms ever again.  And TWO! DAYS! LATER! the boy potty trained himself completely.  I think he simply realized that the crazy woman who called herself Mommy was ready for a padded cell, and he began to wonder who would be buying his Goldfish crackers at the grocery store THEN!  So he knuckled down and wrapped up some business, and presto!  Two days after I threw in the Potty Training Towel of Defeat and plum gave up, we were officially potty trained, and we’ve never looked back.  The boy has always been an independent little fellow who likes to do things on his own.  And it just goes to prove that my own mother was right, as she’d said, “Honey, he won’t wear diapers to kindergarten!  He’ll potty train when he’s ready to potty train; he’ll probably surprise you, too, when he catches on.  You just need to relax and quit putting so much pressure on yourself and on him.”

Sometimes mothers are so wise.

And all of that, people?

Well, my potty training nightmare, that nearly put me in a white bathrobe in a group home with nonstop Wheel of Fortune on the TV, where I shuffled around and said things like, “Hubs lets me drive slowly in the driveway on Sundays,” was happening when Cousin M was a little, wrinkled eight-pound runt, and now he’s eight.

Naturally, Brother and Brother’s Wife threw a bit of a party for the kid, because it was a valid excuse to buy scads of sandwiches from Jimmy John’s for dinner, because Brother’s Wife MAY HAVE a little problem that necessitates a twelve-step program to break an addiction with Jimmy John’s.

And Hubs probably has the exact same problem.

And now every single time someone visits the place, a text message is fired off to the other one that reads, “EATING AT JJ’S.  I MAY BE AHEAD OF YOU IN TRIPS THIS WEEK.”


Or, as Brother’s Wife texted me this weekend, “You will never catch up to my Jimmy John’s visits; all you can do is hope to keep pace.”

Sweet mercy, people!  Have y’all had a Beach Club from the sandwich shop?  Because the cucumbers and sprouts and avocado will forever change your life.  And to think, until last Wednesday, I didn’t even know what Jimmy John’s WAS!

No matter.

Yes, we had Jimmy John’s sandwiches at the birthday party.  We also had squirt guns, which the kids filled with water from the little ditch and sprayed one another with.  There is nothing like good ditch water to boost your immune system — it’s a whole plethora of algae and other essential vitamins and solid antioxidants.

Miss A and Cousin R teamed up to take the boys on, single-handedly.  I’m sad to report that the two of them didn’t survive well in the war, because the boys in our family have one life motto:  SHOW NO MERCY.  And then their other motto is GO HUGE, OR GO HOME.

The girls got soaked, but they gave the battle everything they had.

There was also soda at the party.  Do you know what the boy and Cousin B can do with cans of pop?  I’m not saying that they DID, but they MAY HAVE burped out their ABCs, and THAT is a life skill that any mother can be proud to see that her son has accomplished.  Potty trained?  Yes.  Can write his name?  Yes.  Can read?  Yes.  Uses his best manners in public?  Absolutely.  Can burp out his ABCs in one long string?  Check!

The moral of the story is simply this:  Sometimes it’s for the best if ten-year-old boys don’t have soda.

Of course there were also PRESENTS at the party, because what kind of party would it have been without Legos and Nerf guns wrapped in brightly-colored birthday paper?

This is M with the other Miss A, who is HIS cousin.  The other Miss A is NOT our boy’s cousin, because she is on Brother’s Wife’s side of the family, but FOR YEARS the boy assumed that she was.  He couldn’t understand why the other Miss A was everyone else’s cousin, and he didn’t get to claim her.  So Hubs and I gave up, and we simply told him, “She can be your cousin, too!”  Hence, the boy has eight nine cousins, total.

And then, this party had what the AVERAGE birthday party does not.


I don’t think that I have to tell you that these photos were shot with a TELEPHOTO LENS from a very safe distance!  Brother’s Wife’s Sister (did you keep up on that one?!) and I were one short breath away from climbing up the sides of the picnic area’s shelter to take refuge on the rooftop.

The boys roamed the small ditch, looking for wildlife.

And by wildlife, I mean SNAKE!  SNAKE!  SNAKE!  It didn’t take them long to come up with what they had been searching for, either.

We don’t even know who the kid dressed all in black is.  He was a random stranger boy, who enthusiastically joined in on the SNAKE!  SNAKE!  SNAKE! hunt.

M and B and the boy all argued about WHO was going to take their little catch home.  I assured the boy that if he wanted to LIVE IN our home, it would most definitely NOT BE HIM who stuffed the little snake into an empty water bottle for the drive home in our Suburban.  Brother assured us that THEY were leaving town for a couple of days, and that if THEY brought the tiny reptile home, he’d DRY OUT AND PLUM DIE over the weekend, and he would die alone.

That left Johnny Cash — the boy dressed all in black.  (Not that his name was REALLY Johnny Cash, but we needed to call him SOMETHING.)  Johnny Cash left with his sack and TWO SNAKES! SNAKES! SNAKES!

I hope his mama didn’t suffer a stroke when he walked home with them and arrived on her doorstep bearing the fruits of the big hunt.

And yes, I did say that Johnny Cash, who was dressed all in black, did go home with SNAKES — plural.  It’s because the boys tired of the tiny little fellow, and they eventually went in search of bigger wild game.

And they found it.

I especially love this next snapshot, which was captured on the big Snake Hunt ’11, because really?  Could a tribe of kids EVER LOOK MORE BORED?!  Rest assured, Boredom wasn’t a guest at the birthday party, but this pictures seems to say otherwise.  I don’t think they could have looked more UN-excited if they’d tried!

(Johnny Cash was filling his sack with the first snake there.)

And then the boy caught a little fellow for Cousin M.  Hubs and I tried to convince M that it was his birthday present.  M liked that idea.  Unfortunately, his parents did not.  We also had to tell M that you MUST! MUST! MUST! keep that little living birthday present AWAY FROM MAMA!  Because, although Mama will take your picture with the snake with her telephoto lens from a distance of 7,000 yards, she does not want the snake any closer than that.

Without the invention of the telephoto lens, these pictures would not have been possible.  It goes without saying that I kept a SAFE DISTANCE while I documented this episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom on a digital memory card.

Eventually, everyone handed all of the SNAKES! SNAKES! SNAKES! over to Johnny Cash, and he set out for home, on foot, with his new pets in a sack, and we tucked ourselves in around the picnic tables for homemade ice cream cake.

Cousin R was there.

And fifteen-year-old Cousin H was there, too.  With his broken arm.  Because apparently he cannot skateboard as well as he thinks he can!

Cousin Dub-ya was there for cake, too.  The boy informed me, “Mom, I want my hair to be as long as W’s is!”  Hubs and I are planning to buy our boy some love beads and a VW van.

Miss A wasn’t about to  miss out on the birthday cake!

M blew out his candles, and I think there was only a VERY TINY BIT of eight-year-old spit sitting on top of the cake after that.  Spit is the secret ingredient to a good birthday cake.

The boy and B were up to their usual, crazy ten-year-old antics together, as they hammed it up for the camera and made all kinds of pirate faces.

And then we wrapped up M’s birthday party, because all the Jimmy John’s sandwiches were gone and because there were no more presents left to open, and because all the grown-ups said, “Enough with the snakes already!  Put them down!”

And because we all had baseball games, because it’s summer, and apparently ten-year-old boys play 15,000 baseball games in that season.

I think we’re on game 9,377 right now.

I may have lost track, though.

Happy Thursday night, people.

1 thought on “Cake and Snakes

  1. You would not do well in CR.
    The girls found a snake today — or rather, a snake found them… on the beach!!! Well, it was up in the roots of our favorite Guanacaste tree… right where they were trying to bury a treasure…
    But they DID NOT pick it up…because they have estrogen — they are afraid of snakes…but not iguanas or geckos or tree frogs…just snakes…. and big beetles and termites and ants.

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