We are experiencing triple digit weather. Triple digits means hatchings and unwelcome visitors indoors. Cloth-eating moths. Black widows. Giant waterbugs, which I call cockroaches, which my husband insists are waterbugs—regardless, they make the cats crazy in the middle of the night and startle the holy heck out of me. I don’t like killing things, even spiders, but I have reservations when it comes to black widows. It’s the Rikki Tikki Tavi in me. When I saw the black widow hanging out at the bottom of our living room bookcases yesterday, only a few feet from where my son played with his herd of toy dinosaurs, I sucked in my breath and quickly reminded myself that children survive in far more perilous terrain than mine. Usually the most dangerous things in our house are books (Farenheit 451, Silent Spring, Origin Of The Species, Dante’s Inferno, etc.). No malaria here. Baby-swallowing cobras. Rabid dingos. We have smallish spiders and wasps and plenty of leggy things that look deadly, but aren’t—so why worry? Why search for the best book to smash a poisonous spider with (Elizabeth Peters’ He Shall Thunder In The Sky, in hardcover) when I don’t have it in me to smash a spider, anyway. Although I would punch a shark in the nose or spear it without hesitation if it was after my son. That being said, I’d also smash the darn spider if it was crawling anywhere near my boy’s perfect skin, no regrets. There’s a Chick-fil-A about a mile from us. This morning, the postlady told me my married neighbor came on to her and now she drops the mail into his box and runs. At the elementary school around the corner, signs on the chain link fence bordering the grounds warn students they will be expelled if they come to school with weapons. What to do? How to live peacefully with danger? Books and blog rants and cans of Raid are temporary (illusory) fixes. It doesn’t feel good to dislike things in this big, beautiful, amazing world that my son is just getting to know. Nor does it feel particularly good to use the difficult living situations of children in other parts of the world to calm my own personal spider fears. And I hate using Raid.
I distracted the boy with a snack and the Qubo channel on TV, removed the black widow from the house without uttering screams my son could hear, rolled the vacuum into his bedroom, and checked for anything with legs (not made of rubber). After examining every corner in our house, I placed one of the most dangerous books in the world (besides the the Harry Potter series and anything Aesop, of course), Charlotte’s Web, on my son’s nightstand for this evening’s bedtime reading. I felt better. Empowered, even.
Before we left for the mall and its bookstore, kid’s obstacle-course-in-marvelously-cool-A/C, and ice cream shop, I asked my son to wait for me on the front porch. I dashed back inside, grabbed the can of Raid and sprayed—one, quick spray—the corner of the bookcase where the black widow had been.