In Which I Save My Child From A Tarantula, Inflicting Major Psychological Damage on Myself

Published April 19, 2012 by April Fox

Butterflies and spiders are natural enemies, right?

Caution: This post may be traumatic for arachnophobes. 

So the other night, there was a spider in baby girl’s room. We live in an old house, you may remember, with cracks and gaps and a dirt basement below and the outdoors all around, and occasionally, crawly things wander in and decide to hang out for a while. Unfortunately, this wanderer ended up in baby girl’s room. Was he suicidal? Venturing into the Room of Death on a dare from his friends who had heard about the Big Scary Girl Human Who Shrieks When She Spots Things With More Than Four Legs and Sentences Them to a Vicious and Expedient Death? Simply out for a stroll, and ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time? We’ll never know.

I’m in the kitchen when baby girl comes bouncing in. “Moooooo-ooooom! Come here!”

Sigh. I’m cooking, or cleaning, or… okay I was probably texting my best friend, but whatever. “What’s up, baby girl? Can you wait just a second?”

“No,” she says. “It’s an emergency. A real one.”

It doesn’t really sound like an emergency, or look like one, with the way she’s poking through the cabinets looking for cookies while she tells me this. But still, “What’s the emergency?”

“There’s a spider in my room,” she says (or more accurately, “a spidow”). “It’s huge and scary. Go kill it. Please.”

So off we go to investigate. Sure enough, there’s a spidow in her room. It is, in fact, huge and scary. It’s at least a quarter inch long, legs and all, and his fangs, though imperceptible to the naked eye, are certainly bared and ready to devour us all. “I’ll put him outside,” I tell her. I have this weird aversion to killing things that aren’t full-grown humans who have pissed me off. [Disclaimer: I would not actually do that, and have not actually done that.]

“NO! Kill him.” Well. I’d rather not. I suggest again that I just put him outside so he can go back to his family. Unfortunately, my little one feels no compassion toward eight-legged trespassers who have the potential to crawl on her face at night. If he was in the living room, he’d be safe. The bathroom, sure, I could put him outside. But this vicious behemoth of an arachnid is in her room and therefore, he must die.

After weighing the agony of killing an innocent creature against the agony of listening to a ten-year-old freak out over the potential spider infestation of her bedroom when it’s already past time for her to be in bed, the solution is clear. “Okay, go get me the spray bottle of bleach. I’ll keep an eye on him so he doesn’t get away.”

“Bleach? You’re going to bleach the spidow?” Baby girl clearly does not pay attention to the way I operate.

“Well, yeah. I don’t think we have any insecticide and I wouldn’t want to spray that in your room anyway, and I can’t squish him.”

“Squish him,” she demands. “Why can’t you squish him?”

“Because it’s gross.”

“Spraying him with bleach isn’t gross?” My logical child… of course it’s gross, it’s a horrible way to die. Even a child knows this. But.

“They crunch when you squish them,” I tell her. That sends her off in search of the bleach.

I contemplate trying to capture the spidow and chuck him out the window while baby girl is out of the room, but I’m old and slow, and also if the spidow disappeared, baby girl would never sleep in there again. So I spray him, and he goes into horrible convulsions, and I’m omigod going to be sick from watching this poor creature suffer but then he’s dead, it’s over, and baby girl says “Yay, he’s dead, thank you mom AAAAAAAAAHH he’s not DEAD he’s MOVING!”

Great. Zombie spider, what the fuck. Not only did he move, but he moved somewhere among the pile of papers that baby girl uses to decorate the floor under her vanity table. “FIND HIM AND KILL HIM.” Baby girl is seriously upset. She’s sobbing, clinging to my back; I have one arm around her, trying to calm her, using the heel of a discarded hand-me-down stripper pump to poke through the papers in attempt to find the spidow and complete the hit.

No spidow. Anywhere. Baby girl climbs on top of my head and jumps onto her bed, grabs her pillow pet and her blanket, and takes a flying leap into the hall. [I knew six years of dance class would pay off eventually. The kid can move, I’m telling ya.] “I am NOT sleeping in there. If you need me, I will be sleeping on the couch.”

This calls for a little bit of acting. I make a big production out of rifling through the papers, and then pick up the shoe and smack it against the floor. I gather up the papers and carry them to the trash, and lie through my teeth to my kid. “I squished him,” I say. “You can go to bed now.”

I know, bad parenting. Whatever. I know the spidow is dead. Anyone who ever read “The Far Side” knows what a spider looks like in the throes of death. I’ll spare you the details, but this guy didn’t make it, I was sure. And anyway, it didn’t work. “I don’t care. I’m not sleeping in there.”

Again with the weighing. It’s not going to kill her to sleep on the couch. She will no doubt declare that she is never sleeping in there again (she did) and she will sleep in there the next night (again, she did). So I tuck her in and give her a kiss and five minutes later, she’s sound asleep, and I go into her room and poke around until I finally find the spidow corpse and hide the body in the toilet, flushing away the evidence.

The next night, last night, I had a horrible nightmare. I was in baby girl’s room trying to kill a spider. This one really was huge, kind of an ant-shaped tarantula. I kept trying to smack it with a shoe, and it jumped on me. Landed on my shoulder and crawled around up there and every time I knocked it off, it jumped back on. I finally half-woke up, realized it was a dream, and snuggled back up to beloved. I was almost back to sleep when I felt it again-the soft tickle of spider legs. It makes me queasy just thinking about it. And then it stopped. And started again. And I realized it wasn’t a spider, it was beloved, breathing on my bare shoulder.

Moral of the story: Bad parenting will haunt you. Just squish the damn spidow and deal with the crunch.

2 comments on “In Which I Save My Child From A Tarantula, Inflicting Major Psychological Damage on Myself

  • Love your take on words-“spidow” ive veen lookin at and publishing some old stuff from the 70’s-back when my mind was more creative. I always enjoy your kid stories-I found a few stories about my oldest 2 thay reminded me of your kid tales-i will probably put them in too. Still learning this bloig thing…


  • You need to see the video of the baby snake that PunkIe and I caught in the basement. She was a real trooper whereas words were spewing from my mouth that my girl does not hear from her mamma. My previous experiences with finding one baby ring neck racers in my basement has led to finding 7. I have yet to find anymore. I am still a basket of nerves each time I walk down the steps and hit the landing and look carefully around before slowly making my way around the stairwell the the washer and dryer~~eyeing in all directions for any snake like object under the laundry sorted on the floor and all the various 500 other items stored in the basement from which the rest of the nest could suddenly appear.

    I am still in hopes that it was a stray that somehow made its way into my basement looking for warmth the night it got down to 19 degrees. I am getting to be a pro. This is my third time involving “snakes in a home”. The first was a 5ft black snake coiled up the the upstairs bedroom closet. I still have blood stains on the unfinished drywall where my neighbor killed it with a spade 6 months after I moved in my home. The second was the nest of 7 baby racers the the following spring. This was the first time I was actually able to handle it myself. Well, actually, Charleigh Anne helped ALOT. She was the cool headed one that got something to put it in when I couldn’t think of anything. I let it cook in the sun in a mason jar.

    Oh! I had a weird bug centipede thingie and I starched it; then, I put bleach on it. Bleach it awesome on bugs.


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