Names for Spiders

A couple weeks ago I was doing something at the kitchen table and my son comes in looking for a plastic container with a lid which he could punch holes through. I ask suspiciously, “Why?” He says, “It’s for Tom.” At this point I’m thinking caterpillar, but I can see my son is holding back something, so I ask, “What is Tom?” Turns out Tom is a cute spider on the bathroom wall. Reddish-orange. A little hairy. I immediately instruct him to kill Tom rather than put him in a container. So, my son and youngest daughter (who is not squeamish) spend about twenty minutes throwing fly swatters at Tom, who has sought refuge on the bathroom ceiling. Finally, I suggest a broom handle. That does the job. Tom dies.

Tonight, I was picking up some stuff on the family room floor and I come much too close to a big black spider. Immediately, the non-squeamish daughter comes up and says, “We’ll call him Fred.” She and my son spend a lovely few minutes talking to Fred before they smash him to bits. And then my son cups his hands and walks toward me with a big smile on his face. I know that Fred is dead. I know he has nothing in his hands, but I can’t stop screaming and shivering when he pretends to throw something at my head. And then he laughs. And does it all over again. And I order him to take his bath. Now.

Sigh. I’m glad they can kill spiders for me. But I also wish they could be a little more like their sister, and then spiders wouldn’t have names and I would never suspect them of chasing me with a spider in their hands.

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