“Mom!” Pea yelled. “There was a SPIDER in my bed!”
I wrapped my arms around her frail, shaking body, and tried to calm her.
We re-entered the war zone together, and sure enough, a black spider – roughly the diameter of a #2 pencil – lay dead on Pea’s fitted sheet. I was amazed that she had actually made the kill, and told her I was proud of her bravery. She was not in the mood.
Welcome to spider season in Seattle.
Every September, savvy arthropods set up shop near blackberry bushes, in dark garage corners and under my kids’ beds.
And every September, my husband and I are called upon daily – usually at high volume, with urgency — to dispose of these eight-legged interlopers. Often, we’re able to preserve the lives, sending the spiders outside to toil in greener pastures. But occasionally, in the heat of the moment, the hard shoes or rolled newspapers must take extreme measures.
I once knew a girl who was a lot like Pea. Several decades ago, this child screamed at the sight of beetles, ran from mosquitoes and bees and stopped eating raisins after finding ants in a Sun-Maid box. She begged her dad to kill moths and spiders that ventured into her room. She wore the same pair of socks to bed for two straight weeks at Girl Scout camp, because she was sure that bugs were crawling inside her sleeping bag. She lay awake for nights in college after finding a roach underneath her bedcovers (the nuclear-resistant creatures smartly congregated in the dorm-floor kitchen, which was right across the hall).
I guess we know who passed Pea the “I’m afraid of creepy-crawly creatures” gene.
By the way, my sons inherited the gene, too, albeit to a lesser degree. In fact, when the boys were young, #2’s greatest power against his big brother was realized when he left a Dorling Kindersley book open to the spiders page in their bathroom. After that, it worked every time.
Fortunately, my husband has no palpable fear of spiders or other bugs, so when he’s available, he does the swatting, stomping and/or trapping.
So, we made a deal years ago, after he confided his fear of birds (thanks to Hitchcock) and dead rodents (due to an unfortunate slingshot incident). Because our cats have always enjoyed presenting us with fresh kill – mice, moles, sparrows and even rats – we agreed that if I could dispose of those corpses, my husband would handle all of the fur-free pests.
That agreement has worked somewhat, but since Rich travels a bit for work, I’m often called in as the Bug-Buster. And when I don my Super-Mom cape, I’m a lot braver than my siblings or camp counselors could have predicted.
So, the other night, I helped Pea strip her bed and then checked under the rugs and behind furniture to ensure that her room was spider-free. Sure, my heart was pounding and adrenaline was surging through my body, ready for “flight” instead of “fight.” I soldiered on, though, and in the end, invited Pea to crawl into my bed, which is in a decidedly arachnid-free area of the house.
We clutched each other tightly and fell asleep fearing the evils that lurked downstairs.
Yes, I’m a wimp. I have an preternatural, exaggerated fear of bugs, and I have passed this unfortunate affliction on to my kids. So, sue me. But when you need a dismembered rat removed from your back stoop, you’ll know who to call.
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