I grew up near Paradis in a house bordered on three sides by cow pasture, so it was not uncommon to find a snake in the yard.

My sisters and I would then run to my Dad yelling, “Snake! Snake!” My Dad would always ask, “Is it a poisonous snake?” And I would think, “It’s a snake. It trespassed in our yard. It deserves to die.”

To all the snake lovers, I want to say that I know snakes play a role in the circle of life and have a beneficial purpose. I just wish they would do those things in your yard.

Anyway, my Dad would soon have a snake dangling from a shovel.

Fast forward a few decades and my wife and I were renting a house along the Comite River that backed up to a cow pasture. We had fenced off a corner of the pasture for a dog yard. My theory is that because the dogs didn’t eat all of their food, rats would come for the food, and snakes would come for the rats.

Now it was two little girls running to me yelling, “Snake! Snake!” to me, who was terrified of snakes.

I found myself wishing I had a 10-foot pole with a razor on the end. I tried psychology, telling myself it was silly to be afraid because I was much bigger than the snake.

That didn’t work.

I finally developed a method of knocking the snake unconscious and then cutting off its head. But I was always shaking when I was done and wishing I could have called my Dad to come take care of the snake.

We spend our teenage years longing to get away from home so we can live without parents telling us what to do. It seems great at first, but then you find out about adult responsibilities: working at hard jobs, paying bills, maintaining a house and car, raising children, killing snakes.

Being a parent is incredibly rewarding, but sometimes you feel unqualified and unprepared for things you’re required to do. My youngest daughter recently told my wife she misses the days when she lived at home and we paid all the bills. As we age, we get a greater appreciation of what our parents did for us.

A few weeks ago, I found a young king snake by our trash bin. My oldest daughter had just driven up, so she kept an eye on it while I ran to get a shovel.

Instead, I got a broom and some long-handled grabbers. I swept the snake into the yard. Then I grabbed it and gingerly walked to the back of our 1-acre yard holding it as far from me as possible. I let it go and said, “Have a nice life little snake. Keep all the bad snakes away. Just stay way back here.”

Maybe I’m becoming Dad, the Snake Relocator. Maybe.

— Goodroe lives in Greenwell Springs

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to The Human Condition at features@theadvocate.com or The Advocate, EatPlayLive, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence, and, if writing about yourself, a photo.