My Real Life Dennis the Menace

tj-dennis-the-menaceMy oldest son is a real life Dennis the Menace (DtheM). He is sweet and caring about others with a deep yearning for adventure that tends to be a tad mischievous. This kid loves exploring and discovering things, and what I found in his backpack one morning was certainly a discovery! His curiosity of the world makes my heart feel full; but I have to admit, sometimes in the midst of his adventure I am not always admiring.

I could tell story after story of the things he has done in his young little life, but I have decided to spread the material out and focus on one at a time. Not long ago, I saw a picture online of a dead squirrel in a backpack. A teacher sent a picture of the squirrel to a parent to notify them that her son had brought a little surprise in his backpack.

backpacksquirrel-789x600 My sister tagged me in this picture, floating around Facebook, because it is totally something one of my boys would do, especially my DtheM. A favorite memory popped in my mind of one adventurous torture he forced me to experience.

One morning, when he was about seven years old, I was getting ready to take him and his siblings to school. I looked up and saw he was standing in the doorway of the bathroom with his backpack, looking especially suspicious. I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” was his not-so-innocent reply.

“What is in your backpack?”

He did not answer me, so I went to investigate. I grabbed his backpack and rummaged through it. I can still see the look on his face as I rummaged. He had the, “what will she do when she finds it look.” His look is forever etched in my mind and will bring a smile or chuckle from time to time, especially when I reminisce the times of when he was younger.

Not finding anything, I asked him, “what is in here?”

“A mitten,” he replied.

“A mitten?” I asked very skeptically.

“Yea, I cut up a mitten and put it in there,” he responded.

When rummaging, I had felt something soft and ‘cloth like’, so I placed my hand back in the backpack and rummaged again. Finally finding the item, I pulled it out. In my hand was a little dead garden snake–a real one. It is funny what happens when you are startled or should I say scared from a major surprise. I ran for my life without moving an inch and let out a humiliating scream. My little blue-eyed DtheM was completely terrified. LOL! I am laughing while reliving this experience. He was terrified because he had never seen me act like that and he had no idea what I was going to do.

Trying to figure it all out, I remembered that he had found the little snake the day before. It was on its death bed when he brought it in to show me. I advised him to toss it over the fence and let it die in peace. Instead, he had smuggled it into the house and placed it in the little silver jewelry dish I keep on the bathroom counter. He did let it die in peace, only not in the way I expected. That morning he collected his treasure and placed it in his backpack so he could take it to school and show his friends.

When I finally regained my innards, I commanded him to remove the snake from the house; but this time I made sure he complied. I took him to school and imagined his teachers lavishing thanks and appreciation for intervening and preventing the present from surprising them. In reality, they never knew.

Now, this is a story I retell for entertainment purposes. I also tell it while speaking to groups of children when presenting poison education. I advise them not to place snakes, spiders, scorpions or any critter dead or alive in their backpacks. I always get a good laugh from the children, and I imagine parents everywhere displaying their appreciation for saving them from a “guess what my son did” experience.

Have you ever found anything in your child’s backpack that shocked or surprised you? Post a comment and tell me about it.


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