Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 30 2011

Desert Creatures

So last night I turned on the kitchen light to get a drink of water and saw a quarter-sized spider scuttle under the counter. Ick. This morning I walked into my bathroom to see the world’s largest centipede crawling around my shower. Like one of those really creepy, long-legged, slightly furry critters. In school, my kids found so many roly-polys (a.k.a. pill bugs) that they started keeping them in cups, until I found out, decided that was a little gross, and made them throw them outside. Even though doors stay closed, even though buildings are supposed to keep them out, I’m slowly getting used to the fact that desert bugs get EVERYWHERE.

But I have to draw the line somewhere, and I’m drawing the line at poisonous things that can kill me. When we went out for Health Break (formerly Diabetes Prevention, basically the kids run in circles for 15 minutes and it’s 92 degrees, so figure out how that’s healthy) today, after my whole class and half the rest of fourth grade got out the door, one of my kids notices that there is A SNAKE COILED UP NEXT TO THE DOOR. It was just sitting, directly next to the door opening, as if waiting to be allowed in the building. Much screaming, panic ensues, about 15 kids don’t know there’s a snake and are trying to figure out why everyone’s yelling. Finally we got the kids back inside through a side door so one of the janitors could kill the darn thing, and it turns out it was not just a snake, it was A RATTLESNAKE. Further turns out that the baby snake that we ignored around the corner from the playground last week (alerting kids to the presence of a snake is a terrible idea, especially when Navajo culture says you’re not supposed to look at or talk about snakes) was also a rattlesnake. Bugs are one thing, lizards are another, but POISONOUS SNAKES? REALLY, New Mexico?

Although apparently no one told my kids that snakes are taboo, because they could not stop talking about it, trying to look at it, etc. I finally had to tell them explicitly that we were deciding not to talk about it because some cultures (such as yours, my obviously less-traditional Navajo kids) are uncomfortable talking about snakes and in respect to our friends we were going to drop it. This was much to the relief of my 4 or 5 more-traditional kids, who were averting their eyes this whole time.

Sheesh. Talk about things I never imagined being part of teaching.

UPDATE: Today I looked up rattlesnakes and found out that our snake was a Hopi or prairie rattlesnake. Also found out that the nearest antivenom to here is 2.5 hours away. Further found out that rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal…if treated within 1-2 hours. Moral of the story: don’t get bit.

One Response

  1. Kurt (Community Manager)

    Congratulations! Your post has been featured on the Teach For Us homepage.

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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