I will begin by saying that I have raised a four year old boy so I’m not judging his parents one bit. And while it has been twenty years since I actually HAD a four year old boy, I totally understand how one gets away from you. They are sly little suckers. All angelic looking when they’re sleeping but hell on wheels when their eyes are open. No mother ever thinks she’s going to survive having a four year old boy because they are just that busy. And nuts. Did I mention that they are completely nuts? They take apart stuff that isn’t supposed to be taken apart. And they mess up things that they aren’t supposed to be messing with in the first place. They run and yell and argue because they are, well….nuts.
If you are the mother of a four year old boy, you understand.
And so, it was no surprise that I saved a four year old from a snapping turtle a week ago. When I saw the snapping turtle making its way across the grass, every fiber of my being told me that the four year old across the street was going to find that turtle to mess with. There is probably some cosmic law that says that if a four year old boy sees a snapping turtle they just have to try to touch said snapping turtle. Parents should be warned about this when their sons are born and then avoid any possibility that those sons will come within ten blocks of a snapping turtle…ever.
It was a lovely June morning full of the sounds of birds and the laughter of children when I looked out the front window at the cabin and noticed the enormous snapping turtle trying to navigate the cement curb by the road. She’d gotten herself hung up on it and was rocking like crazy to lower her front claws to the pavement so that she could cross the road. This probably wasn’t how she’d envisioned starting her day when she set out to find a nice gravel driveway in which to lay her eggs. I went to make coffee and had breakfast and figured she’d figure it out eventually. I read the newspaper and got dressed and didn’t think any more about Mother Turtle.
An hour later, I glanced out the window and saw a four year old boy I didn’t know low on his chubby haunches in the grass near the gravel driveway with one chubby hand extended to something in the grass in front of him. He was completely engrossed and for a split second, I thought that maybe he’d found a baby bird or a butterfly.
And then, it hit me.
Since I’m a big believer in the “village” approach to keeping four year old boys from losing fingers, I bolted across the street and in my best hey four year old, listen up! Mom voice yelled, “Stop! Don’t touch the turtle!” to which he looked up, blinked, and said in his most reasonable four year old voice, “I’m only touching the shell!” Like it was completely logical and acceptable that he’d be doing this for kicks. Like he was thinking, hey old lady that I don’t know who is in my four year old business…loosen up! Relax! It’s only a turtle, for cryin’ out loud!
You get older. Your kids grow up. You think you’re past those moments of sheer terror that come with having little ones.
And then you see a snapping turtle and a four year old boy nose to nose and you realize that whether or not you even know the four year old boy, you’re still part of the village. His village.
You just are.