I shuffled downstairs, half asleep.
For some reason Sundays exhaust me.
I was walking into the living room and that’s when I saw it.
“Stop!” I shouted, pushing my kids into the hall. They had been following me, hoping for some breakfast.
“What?” Tommy demanded.
“I saw…a spider.” My voice dropped down into a whisper. I’m not sure why. Probably because spiders can speak English, sense fear, and suck out your insides. At least that’s what they all do in my mind.
Natalie buried her face into my leg. “I don’t YIKE spi-dahs!”
Tommy wrinkled his nose. “Nona says we shouldn’t be afraid of bugs. She says they help the planet.” He was naming his grandma, my mother. Would you believe that my mother loves bugs? She does. She’s sort of like a hippie in a way. She loves plants, bugs, and leftovers. Yes, leftovers. I usually throw our leftover food out and she’s horrified by this. She’s probably wondering how she could have raised a daughter afraid of bugs, too.
“Well, Nona was alive in the 60s,” I replied, peeking around the corner to see if the spider was making its move to attack.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Tommy asked.
“I’ll…explain it when you’re older,” I promised. “But right now Mommy needs to figure out what we’re going to do and how we’re going to kill it.”
“Nona says we shouldn’t kill bugs but let them go outside,” Tommy explained.
Ugh. Mom! This is true though. She DOES think that. Back when Tom and I lived in Nebraska she came to visit and there was this disgusting spider by our front door. Tom was all set to kill the thing and Mom was all, “WAIT!” Then she scooped it up and carried it across the street to safety.
Once when I visited her in Texas a spider ran across my FOOT as I was throwing some laundry in.
Yes, I screamed.
I mean, a spider ran across my FOOT!
“What?” Mom shrieked, thinking that I was being attacked. And in a way, I was. Did I mention that a spider ran across my FOOT?!
“A spider ran across my foot!” I wailed.
Mom frowned at me. “Amber…honestly…” Then she got down on her knees, found the spider, scooped it up in her palm (shudders), and brought it outside.
“It’s just easier to kill the spider so it doesn’t attack,” I told Tommy, reaching for my tennis shoe that sat by the front door.
“But Nona said—”
“Shhhh! Mommy will take care of this,” I cut him off. I held the shoe out. “Say Tommy? How would you like to be the hero? Want to kill a spider?” I said, trying to make it sound like it was the most exciting thing ever. This could be like Tommy’s rite of passage. They do that all the time in Africa.
“No,” Tommy said, shaking his head.
“You sure?” I prodded.
Tommy gave me a Look. “I said no.”
Fine. Geez. It looked as though it would be up to me.
Then Max the Cat walked by.
“Hey Max? Could you kill a spider for us?” I picked him up and pointed to the offensive spider who was STILL IN THE SAME SPOT PLOTTING. “Sic him!” I bellowed, setting Max down. I expected the cat to take off and protect us from the spider. But no. He just lay down and started licking his butt.
DID NO ONE IN THE HOUSE WANT TO BE A HERO?
Tom was not an option because he was sleeping after working the night shift.
Natalie…well, Natalie was holding my leg in a death grip.
So I’d have to do it. Fine.
“You guys stay here,” I said to the kids, prying Natalie off of me. I took a deep breath. I could do this. I gave birth twice for craps sake. Killing a spider is nothing next to that. “Here I go,” I said, holding the shoe out so I could strike quickly.
“You’re not moving,” Tommy observed.
“I’m taking my time so I don’t startle the thing,” I answered. This was partly true. The other part was that I was working up my nerve to move.
I took one step. Then another.
The spider still wasn’t moving.
Maybe it was already dead! Maybe it had a heart attack. Can spiders have heart attacks?
I was almost there. Almost there….almost….wait….wait….
I peered closer at the spider.
Why did it look familiar? Why did it—
It was fake. It was from Tommy’s bug kit. Well, it wasn’t my fault that I thought it was real! It LOOKED real and I was half asleep.
I had to save face. I couldn’t let my children know that I was cowering in fear over a plastic spider. I had to keep some sort of dignity. So I brought the shoe down and went, “Mommy got it!” Then I quickly grabbed the fake spider and stuck it in the drawer.
“Can I see?” Tommy asked.
“No. It’s too gruesome. It’ll give you nightmares. You stay there while I…shake the body outside.” I pretended to do this and then came back in all set for praise from my children. But no.
All they cared about was getting some breakfast. And okay, the spider turned out to be fake but THEY didn’t know it. Where was my thanks?
That’s the last time I protect them from a fake spider, let me tell you.