Despite the  joy of having a gifted child (it’s 2016; where’s my jetpack? My sarcasm fonts?), one benefit is I learn new things all the time. For example…

…last night I was having a pity party and (thank you, Google Earth), I looked at my grandparents’ house in North Florida. Whoever owns it now is doing a bang-up job of keeping it up. Then, at pH’s prompting, I showed her the back of the house and the lake beyond.

And I remembered a story.

It was August in Florida, which is pretty much hell on earth. My aunt and I were, uh, more than slightly inebriated for some reason (besides not a whole lot to do in North Florida), and we were sweaty and dehydrated and exhausted after we’d  liberated (free) windows from a site renovation and took them to the back of the house, to the garage.

But OMG, there was a water moccasin–injured, because my aunt’s terrier had been acting like a terrier and terrorizing it without knowing what the heck it was. (Spoilers: the dog turns out fine.) Now, I have these Southern genes, but there are two things about North Florida that freak me the fuck out: palmetto bugs and poisonous snakes.

The women in my family, though, know how to handle this stuff. On the same visit, I watched my frail grandmother fly–fly!–across a room to whack a palmetto bug with her slipper (it was the day before the exterminator was due). (I screamed. I’m useless in these situations.)

But…back to the garage. My aunt–who was rather more inebriated than I–grabbed a shovel, attacked the water moccasin, and flung it, injured, into a ditch 15 yards away.

End of story. I looked at my daughter.

pH: “It’s not a poisonous snake.”

Me: “Of course it is. You remember the one that swam after your daddy and how they all jumped out of the canoe when it went inside, then when it went out of the canoe they all jumped back in?”*

pH: “Yes, it’s dangerous.” (Rolls eyes.) “But it’s a venomous snake. You see, it injects venom into you. If you just touched it or ate it, that would be poisonous. Since it injects it into you, it’s not technically poisonous, it’s venomous.”**


*I think this should be an Olympic sport.

**So I looked all of this up and she’s mostly right. A venomous creature injects venom, which is poison, into you.