Just this morning I walked out my driveway at 6AM to go down to the Gym with my wife and I found a dead black snake in our front driveway near the road. It was only a baby about 400mm long and I felt quite sorry for it. Seeing the poor deceased baby snake made all the memories from my childhood suddenly flood back through my mind.
You see I love snakes. It all started when my Dad used to tell me snake stories when I was just a young boy. One example he gave was the time, as a toddler, that I walked across the yard to pick a flower and my dad saw a dirty, big, red-bellied, black snake wrapped around that flower. Of course, without hesitation, he disposed of the threat, to the detriment of the snake. Mind you poisonous snakes were always dirty and usually big in all of Dad’s snake stories.
Over the years this love of snakes and the bush grew in both my brother and I, until by around the age of 14, my brother and I accumulated a sizable collection of deadly and non-deadly snakes. We kept all the snakes in a timber box in the back yard with a glass top. Two 1.2m tiger snakes, 2 black snakes (one was 1.8m long) and several white-lipped Marsh snakes (no pun intended).
One day one of our small red-bellied black snakes (about 700mm long) got lost in the house. Mum freaked out and eventually sold all our snakes to a herpetologist, much to our dismay.
You can take the boy out of the bush, but you cannot take the bush out of the boy. Yes, I did eventually grow up and marry and was blessed with 5 beautiful children. Having said that, the longing for adventure was still in me and to my surprise (not) I found that it is in my children. Sure enough, that longing for adventure soon found a combined outlet.
When my family and I travelled throughout outback Australia over many years playing music, every day was an adventure and a snake-hunting expedition. We would stop at the snake and reptile parks and took every opportunity to hold the pythons and lizards that we could. If we ever accidentally ran over a snake, an unfortunate reality of outback travel, we would always stop and offer road-side assistance. Most often it was a case of a dignified burial.
Once, when travelling on a narrow tarmac road of the Kimberley, the headlights of our Toyota Coaster revealed a huge scrub python, straddling the road. He was so long that his head was buried in the bush on one side of the road and his tail stretched to the other side. I would guess he would have been about 8 metres long which puts him at the upper limits of a long Australian snake.
Towing a caravan makes it hard to pull up. Sadly, we ran right over him. When the boys and I went back on a ‘search and rescue mission’ by the light of a torch the huge snake had disappeared into the long grass.
Crocodiles were also a fascination. They are cold blooded animals, just like snakes (maybe that is why I like them). I will never forget the first time our family saw a crocodile in the wild. We were in a flat-bottomed boat in Kakadu National Park. We were all warned to keep our arms inside the boat otherwise we might become arm-less. (I kid you not. All tour operators know all the best ‘dad’ jokes) Crocodiles do jump you know!
The funny thing is that going on an adventure and doing something you have not done before, with a group of people, produces what adventure experts call ‘temporary community’ or ‘islands of healing’. Adventure therapy and adventure education have become buzz words for a new type of transformational educational process that is really, as Sidney Smith said, ‘An old truth which is our wisdom to remember and our weakness to forget’.
To a child, every day is a great adventure (ie a miracle). Life is a learning curve. When a Dad invites his child to go with him on an adventure, that father is opening himself to new things and entering into his child’s world, which is constantly full of new things every day.
Jesus said, ‘Unless you become like a little child you will not enter the kingdom of heaven’, and Albert Einstein said, ‘There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle’. Adventure was important to Albert Einstein and as fathers, it should be important to us too.
Please don’t think you don’t have to love snakes and crocodiles like the crazy Marshes but you must find the adventure in you and share it with your children.
Every child needs an adventure with Dad.
You don’t need to go to Kakadu and pat a crocodile to have an adventure with your children, but you can’t just sit in your lounge chair and play with your mobile phone or watch TV either. You have to move out of your comfort zone and take your children with you.
Speaking about adventure I do have an option for you.
The Dads4Kids Fun camp at Wollondilly River Station in the Southern Highlands of NSW, if you are able. It just so happens to be on next week on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd September 2018. Check out the video below and email firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details.
Don’t worry if it is too far to come. You can always camp out with the kids in your very own backyard. Use your imagination and don’t make it too complicated.
You probably know what I’m going to say next?
JUST DO IT!
Every day is an adventure for your children.
How wonderful if you could do it with them!
Yours for more adventures with Dad