Imagination leads to mis-snaken identity |

Imagination leads to mis-snaken identity

Walking through Western Gateway Park in the early evening, I came upon a snake. I turned the corner and there it was, basking in the sunshine and not moving. Not wearing my glasses, I decided that I’d have to get too close to figure out exactly what kind of snake it was so I kept moving.

As I kept walking, my thoughts kept wandering back to that snake. Here I’m walking through the park where children play and I was too scared to get close enough to figure out exactly what kind of snake it was. Was it dangerous? Inevitably, the further away I walked, the more I kept thinking about that snake. Then my thoughts turned to fear. What if a child stumbled across the snake and it turned out to be a poisonous snake and I did nothing … What then?

At that moment I turned around and that is when I heard him holler, “MOM!”

“What?” she replied.

“Over here. I found a snake.”

Mom came running and she didn’t run around the snake, but ran directly to the snake. I couldn’t believe it when she just bent over and picked it up. I came running up to the young boy and we both stood there staring at her as she held the snake. I said, “So, by the looks of things you’re not afraid of snakes.” His mom looked at me and said, “Oh, I’m afraid of snakes, but I’m not afraid of shoelaces.” She quickly threw down the shoelace and said to her son, “Now, what did I tell you about making things up. A shoelace is a shoelace and a snake is a snake!”

I looked over at the small boy and said, “Don’t worry … I thought it was snake, too.” He smiled and ran the other direction to his friends. The mother and I laughed and I continued on with my walk.

Now, walking through the park eventually I came full circle. As I approached the bend I saw in the distance the “snake.” I also came across that same young boy. He was sitting on the grass talking to his friends when I heard, “I saw a snake. Do you want to see the snake?” he asked. The other boys said, “Yeah.” The boys got up and quietly walked together. I followed behind. I had to hear what that young boy would say.

When we finally arrived, the boys each stood in silence over the limp object until one of the boys said, “That’s not a snake, it’s a shoelace.” The young boy looked at him and said, “I know it’s a shoelace, but didn’t you know that shoelaces all used to be snakes. Snakes lose their skins and then people make them into shoelaces.” The boys then said, “OH!” When I started to laugh the young boy looked at me and said, “Hey lady, would you like to keep the snake?” I said, “Absolutely.”

When I got home from my walk I smiled. The young boy had reminded me of the importance of imagination. Like all mothers, I have a file cabinet filled with my children’s past. Artwork, cards, stories. I went to that file and found a story my daughter, Shae, had written when she was in elementary school. I believe my daughter would have also seen the snake, and I can only imagine what her story would have been. The story my daughter wrote was called: Imagination, and I can think of no better way to share how that young boy knew that shoelace was once a snake.


Living in a time when television and the Internet can provide all the entertainment we ever need, there still is a place that shares the greatest stories ever told.

Behind the gates; hidden within the minds of young children lives a man named Imagination. He appears when children are scared and lonely, happy or sad. He can turn bad days into a wonderful experience and can make toys dance across the room.

He comes in peace, allowing each child the opportunity to know him. He will stay with you for as long as you both shall live, and he always wants you to live happily ever after. Imagination you always know because he never leaves you.

To understand the story you are telling, all you need is a little imagination.

Thank goodness for children … I will always remember the shoelace that I thought was snake, but the young boy with his “imagination” will always remember the snake that produced a shoelace.


Gina Gippner is a Penn Valley resident and mother of three. She can be reached via e-mail at or computer chat at

Her column appears every other Tuesday.

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