A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: snapping turtles

Let’s do finger knitting!

Last week my eight year old daughter and I were flying home to Atlanta from a lovely long weekend visiting my extended family in Pittsburgh. Shortly after boarding the plane we discovered that her DSi was out of battery power.

Uh oh.

Here it comes.

I braced myself…

Three. Two. One.

“MOM! Why didn’t you remind me to charge my DSi last night?” she verbally lunged faster than a cornered snapping turtle at an impromptu roadside petting zoo.

Me? Oh-no-she-DI-INT!

“Um, excuse me, Miss Thang, but you are eight years old; it is YOUR job to be responsible for your own electronics, not mine.”

That’s me on the defense…can you tell? I was acting all tough, but deep down inside I was silently kicking myself for not charging that thing for her. You see, I want to be a good parent. I  want my children to learn from natural consequences and grow up to be responsible, self-sufficient adults. However, on an airplane, surrounded by 200 cranky strangers with nothing but diminutive packets of peanuts to break up the time, regular rules don’t apply. The fact that her DSi was uncharged was about to create some pretty fucking negative consequences for everyone else on the whole plane. I cannot be a party to that.

Believe me, you do NOT want to be sitting anywhere near THIS… especially on an airplane:

We’re talking kick-the-seat-in-front-of-her, see how many times the tray table can go up and down, repeatedly raise and lower the window shade so fast that it creates a strobe light effect and sends people into seizure mode. Not okay. So since I forgot to remind her to charge her electronic babysitter, I needed to think fast and find a way to keep the little bitch busy.

Fortunately, one of my aunts had just given Mini-Me a really cool “French Knitting Spool Kit” with a couple skeins of really pretty variegated yarn. Unfortunately, as we learned the night before at dinner when Mini-Me spiraled into an “I can’t DO this!” meltdown, she’s probably not quite developmentally ready for Spool Knitting. Ooops. Well, it was the thought that counted.

But never fear, with my cat-like parenting reflexes, I engineered a quick alternative: FINGER KNITTING!

Super easy. Super fun. Hours of zen-like busy work with really cool results. I’ve seen kids as young as five years old do this with no help! All you need is yarn and two hands and you can make headbands, belts, necklaces, decorative garlands, a leash for your little brother, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Here’s how you get started:

Turn your non-dominant hand to face you. I’m using my baseball-glove-sized right hand below, because I’m a lefty. Now take the end from your skein of yarn and loosely weave it in and out of the four fingers of that non-dominant hand, figure eight-style, like so:

It doesn’t matter which side of your hand you start the weaving from. I usually tie the loose end to the skein end when I make it back to the finger where I started from (in this case, my pinky):

Next, wrap the skein end all the way around your hand, slightly above the in-and-out woven part you just did, then around the back of your hand, and returning to the side with the knot, like this:

Then, using the thumb and index finger of your other hand, pick up each of the finger loops one by one and lift it OVER the wrapped hand piece of yarn, one finger at a time. In finger knitting, your fingers can bend toward your palm to make it easy to pass the yarn over each finger. Sounds complicated, but it’s not. Look at these pics. First I’m doing my pointer finger loop…

Next, my swearing finger:

In this next pic, I’ve already lifted the yarn over the first three fingers, one at a time (working toward my pinky), now I’m about to lift the wrapped loop on my pinky over the other piece of yarn that was wrapped around my whole hand:

After you’ve done this to each of your four fingers, it will look like this:

You’ve just completed a row! Wrap the working end (skein end) of the yarn around your whole hand and back again. And one by one, lift the bottom finger loops over the top hand loop. Do this over and over until the back of your hand looks like this (we’re switching to Mini-Me’s sweet little hands now):

Keep working. A few more rows and it will look like this:

Once it gets about that long, you can gently start to tug on the knotted part and a chain will form down the back of your hand. If you keep knitting, eventually you’ll have a long chain like this:

Look how peacefully occupied and content she is! Totally not kicking the seat in front of her, by the way.

Naturally your child will need to go to the bathroom at some point. You have two choices, tell her to hold it and hope for the best, or remove the finger knitting from her hand so she can go to the bathroom without turning her knitting into a bio-hazard. I chose the latter. Here’s a picture of me temporarily using a pen to hold her stitches in place while she drains the main vein on the airplane (hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!). I’m nothing if not über resourceful.

So there you have it: my desperate version of Impromptu Airplane Finger Knitting. Take my advice and keep a skein of yarn in your bag o’ tricks! You never know when it will come in handy.

If you would like more information on Finger Knitting, here is a good (short, sweet, & silent!) YouTube tutorial for your viewing pleasure. And here’s another. It’s so easy, just ask these adorable kids!! (But kids, don’t wrap the finished product around your necks! Der.) And look…there’s even one for my Spanish speaking friends. As you can see, there are a variety of personal finger knitting styles and techniques. All of them work, so pick one that makes the most sense to you and give it a try. Or let your kid annoy the shit out of everyone on the airplane just because you were too drunk to charge up their electronic game. Totally up to you.

yours in desperate craftiness,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Turtle Recall

The following correspondence was inspired by real events. The names have not been changed.

—– Original Message —–

From: Iris Beard
To: higganse@bellsouth.net
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 1:26 PM
turtle bite

Dear Phillip,

My kids and I found a giant snapping turtle on the side of the road today. It looked exactly like the photo on your website… huge and prehistoric looking! Just incredible! We were truly in awe. I’ve only seen little box turtles in person before… never anything this big.

Close up photo of a Snapping Turtle.

Photo used with permission from Phillip Higgins.

Well, I am so embarrassed to admit it, but we were trying to “pet” the turtle. I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this, but I learned the hard way why they are called “snapping turtles.” He got my thumb and sliced it wide open with his pointy beak. I had no idea a turtle could move so fast! I feel like such an idiot! I promise, that is the last time I try to pet a wild animal (at least without a first aid kit and a child psychologist on hand).  I used it as a teachable moment so that my kids will learn from my mistake and not try to handle wild creatures, and hopefully my 6 year old daughter won’t be too traumatized and be afraid of turtles for the rest of her life… but it was pretty scary.

So, I’m writing to ask two things…

1.) may I please have permission to use the picture of a snapping turtle on your website for a blog post about my harrowing and idiotic experience?


2.) my husband told me I should be grateful he didn’t bite my thumb clean off. Is it true that these turtles can cause that kind of damage? And should I have a doctor look at my wound? It is a pretty deep slice… looks like a kitchen knife made it… not a puncture wound… but I don’t think I need stitches and I cleaned it out really well. Do turtles carry any diseases I should be concerned about???

Moments after it happened, this is what the turtle bite looked like.

Please be kind… I already feel like such a moron!



—– Reply —–

From: higganse@bellsouth.net
To: Iris Beard
Monday, June 1, 2009 3:32 PM
RE: turtle bite

1) Yes you can use my pictures.

2) Snapping turtles have been known to take off fingers if not almost entire hands. Down in Louisianna if you talk to any snapping turtle hunters, who make stew out of the animals, many of them have missing fingers and so forth. Really the only thing you would have to worry about your bite is infection. There are no other diseases to be concerned about. I wouldn’t go to the doctor unless you need stitches or get a severe infection. I have been bitten by many turtles and never had any true long-term effects from it.


—– Moral of the story —–

Do not pet a snapping turtle. Those mo-fos are extremely aggressive and dangerous, particularly on land.

Even if your youngest child is completely obsessed with turtles and cannot sleep without his trusty stuffed turtle in his arms. Never pet a snapping turtle.

Even if you think you have a special way of communicating with animals and have recently rescued two trapped baby birds from your garage and your friend Christel calls you the Dog Whisperer. Beware of snapping turtles.

Even if it is the first day of summer vacation and you are in a flat out panic about having to spend the next 75 days with your three children, all day, every day. Petting a snapping turtle is not okay.

Even if you are practically incapacitated with guilt from having missed signing up your kids for any decent day camps. Stay the fuck away from snapping turtles.

Just because you didn’t realize that all the local swim teams fill up by late February and you are stuck having to teach your own children how to swim does not give you the right to create an impromptu roadside petting zoo with a creature whose bite force is 1004 psi (pounds per square inch). For your reference, a lion has a bite force of 691 psi, a great white shark has a bite force of 600 psi, and a Rottweiler: 328 psi. In other words, it’s probably safer to pet a Rottweiler who is being gang raped by a pride of hungry lions in a chum filled shark tank than it is to pet a snapping turtle. Or for my bilingual readers: tortuga mordedora esta muy peligroso.

So, never pet a snapping turtle. That’s my Just the Tip Tuesday tip for you, friends.

Special thanks to MerrilyMaryLee for inspiring me with this delightful post to finally share some of the embarrassing details about my snapping turtle encounter.  Apparently, yesterday was World Turtle Day. Good to know. Maybe I’ll celebrate it with some store bought turtle soup.

licensed to drive, but not to parent,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

Don’t try this at home.

This week’s Listography over at Kate Takes 5 is all about Bad Combinations. Here are a few perfect examples taken from Kate’s sister’s Facebook page:

Wind \ Hair \ Lipgloss

Old people \ The Internet

Bikini Waxes \ Dignity

To which Kate added her own list of five. Very funny – and true. Especially if you have young kids and/or know what Sudocream is.

I’d like to add a few of my own, based upon personal experience. The rules of Listography limit me to just five, which is unfortunate because I feel like creating bad combos might just be my forté. Come to think of it, pretty much every Listography I’ve ever participated in deals with the inappropriate pairing of things… like gum chewing and Communion wafers, Catholic Picture Bibles and Satan reach arounds, nine year old suburban white girls and Barry White albums, emotionally retarded adult children of divorce and weddings. Hmmm… have I just cracked some kind of top secret Irish code?

So, not wanting to take the easy way out, I thought I’d reflect on some additional bad combos I’ve experienced in life. Here is just a small sample, ribbed for your pleasure:

1.) snapping turtle \ impromptu roadside petting zoo

snapping turtles bite... duh.

Image credit: Phillip Higgins

Apparently, they’re called Snapping Turtles for a reason. Who knew?

2.) chopping jalapeno peppers \ removing contact lenses
I’m pretty sure every child in my neighborhood is now familiar with the howled version of the phrase: “HOLY FUCKING HELL! MY EYES! MY EYES! I’VE BLINDED MYSELF! AAAAAHHHHHHGGGG!!!”

3.) really nice Scouting dads \ me \ playing cornhole

4.) Christmas party \ winter white wool dress slacks \ explosive diarrhea
Honestly, I don’t know why I don’t just wear a diaper to my sister in law’s house every Christmas Eve. I’m not sure if it is her homemade eggnogg, or the raw oysters, or just a psychosomatic response at this point, but something horrific happens in my bowels every year shortly after our holiday dinner at her house. Every. Single. Frickin’. Year. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m not invited back next year, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Wow, imagine that, a poop story. Weird. So unlike me.

5.) parent-teacher conference \ speech impaired child \ dick jokes
True story. Last week The Gatekeeper and I went in for Bucket Head’s Speech IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Partway into the meeting, Bucket Head comes over to tell us “Look at my magic dick!” Of course, what he was holding was not his penis at all, but rather a magnetic wand, or STICK. However, since he can’t articulate beginning blends like “ST,” he substitutes the “D” sound. “Stick” becomes “dick.” Magical? Indeed. Oh yes, I did. And oh no, it wasn’t appreciated (or probably even noticed). Feeling the unbearable weight of the airborne potential joke, I even asked Bucket Head to repeat it: “What’s that thing called honey?” “My magic dick!” “Oh that’s awesome! Daddy has one of those too.” Nope. Nothing. Like casting pearls to swine, I tells ya. But thank God for you people! At least someone appreciates my humor.

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to prepare some skits for my church’s Vacation Bible School. What? Is that another bad combo? Oh, fine. Don’t worry, I won’t perform them sober.

yours truly,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

© 2021 The Bearded Iris

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑