Do you know what we had at our house this weekend? A tarantula. A real one, too - not some fake "spamantula". And do you know who handled that puppy? Who's fearless? Who's got nerves of steel? This bad girl right here. That's right, me - the Beta MASTER!
Well, me and my five year old.
At my place of employ, where we enrich the great minds of tomorrow, and some of the mediocre as well, we have an upcoming program about bugs. As part of this educational experience we have arranged to borrow live bugs from CJ - the overly enthusiastic bug guy from our local reptile emporium. CJ was more than delighted to lend us some bugs that were, in his words, "handleable".
Oh, how the children and I would laugh and play as we looked at grasshoppers and ladybugs and caterpillars.
Five tarantulas, three scorpions, a Vietnamese centipede and several varieties of venomous spiders (not handleable) later I knew I was in deep dung beetles. Thank god for Myrta, the amazing science educator, who stepped up and offered to join us for our public program. She of steady hand and brave heart would hold the tarantulas. I would stand to the side smiling and trying not to pee myself.
Once I knew I was off the hook, however, a desire to conquer my fear welled up in me. I couldn't let the bug get the better of me. I decided to bring one tarantula home for my own little test audience. Plus, as this is a tough city bug, I thought it might enjoy a relaxing weekend by the seashore. My own little Fresh Air arachnid program.
HIDDEN AGENDA ALERT - Okay, I have to admit there was a dual benefit to this little exercise. My nine year old son was having a friend sleep over, and in my shameless campaign for coolest mother in the universe, I thought bringing a tarantula home might buy me a little street cred. There is some Alpha-like behavior here, and I don't want to talk about it anymore.
I brought the beast home and was greeted with the expected oohs and ahhs.
"Can we take it out now?"
"Let's wait until after dinner."
"How about now"
"Let's wait until after we clean up the dishes."
"Let's wait until after the housing market rebounds."
Knowing I couldn't stall any longer, we sat in a circle in our living room, squirming with anticipation. VERY SLOOOOWLY we opened the lid of the container and I VERY GENTLY lifted the creature from container. Knowing we were all nervous I tried to comfort the kids in what I thought was a relaxed tone, but I'm sure the pitch in my voice was reaching every dog, dolphin and Backstreet Boy within a 100 mile radius.
As we let the thing crawl around on our hands and arms we relaxed. For the most part it cooperated and moved very slowly, as if it understood that it was working with a remedial bug crowd. We even enjoyed it...a little. I'm not sayin' I want to take the thing to the movies or make any kind of life plan with it - I'm just saying that it wasn't awful.
I, having overcome my fear, felt tough as nails. I wanted to go out and ride a bull or start a bar fight or at least post an angry blog. Instead, we put our little friend back in its container and went outside to toast marshmallows and make s’mores, feeling as though we had a greater appreciation for mother nature and the wonder of her creatures great and small and hairy.
After about 5 minutes a swarm of killer mosquitoes descended upon us and sent us crying into the house like babies.
I think we'll just stick with giant spiders from now on.