When I moved to Statesboro eight years ago my son was an infant. Riding down Savannah Avenue and seeing the sprawling southern porches, I felt like I was in the middle of a Fannie Flagg novel. I wondered if someone in town would serve up some fried green tomatoes. To say I was thrilled that my child would grow up here is an understatement. I looked forward to seeing the friendships he would form and couldn't wait until there was a gaggle of little boys running, laughing, and playing in my backyard while I was soaking up the fresh South Georgia sunshine and drinking some sweet tea.
As the years passed, I indeed found myself with a yard full of children. My vision of relaxing with tea while watching them play rarely occurred, instead they kept me on my toes. Daily life was made up of Rec league practices, school functions, and church with the same group of families and children. I loved the sense of community my child was growing up with. It wasn't until my precious, can-do-no-wrong seven-year-old decided to get sneaky that small town life revealed its greatest asset - the Mommas amongst us.
It all began one day last fall while sitting and watching my son play flag football with his Rec league team. While I profess to know nothing about football, or sports for that matter, I always enjoyed watching the kids run and play on the field while I was catching up with the other parents. Halfway into the practice, a dear friend and fellow Mom on the sidelines looked up at me and said, "Is it true? Your son really picked up the snake at school?" As soon as she asked the question, three other Moms chimed in with various comments such as, "Yes, I heard that" or "The boys were talking about that at my house," and my personal favorite - "No one could believe he did it!"
I started to get dizzy with confusion about the snake situation which had apparently rocked the 2nd grade. "Wait a second," I said. "Please tell me what you are talking about." As it turns out, a snake had wiggled its way onto the playground at school. At recess and in true little boy fashion, they had all gathered around the playground visitor for a closer look. Passionate about reptiles and perhaps trying to be cool, my son decided to pick up the snake to show it to his friends. When he did, a teacher thankfully intervened and my child got a good talking-to about making good choices and the danger of picking up snakes if you don't know if they are poisonous or not. Not wanting to get in trouble at home, he neglected to tell me.
Fuming the remainder of the football practice and questioning the fatal error in parenting that had led my son to take up "snake handling," I was relieved when practice was over and I could finally get to the bottom of Snakegate from the culprit himself. Walking away from the field, I looked down at my sweaty little boy and said, "Do you have something to tell me? Something about snakes?" His face instantly looked guilty and he 'fessed up about his poor choice, why he did it, and how he would never do it again.
As we got in the car he asked me, "How did you find out?" At that moment, I smiled to myself, turned around to him with a straight face and in a very matter-of-fact way stated, "I'm your mother. It's my job to know everything."
What I really knew, and he would grow to understand, is that he has many Mothers. Because he is growing up in Statesboro, I can rest assured our community has an eye on all of our children, including mine. And, as he grows older, makes choices both good and bad, and decides to try other "snake-y" moves, our community of Mommas will be there, helping to keep tabs on him, and letting me know along the way.