Eight reasons to say no

Phidippus audax, jumping spider: The basal par...
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“Baby girl, we’re going to have to let it go before we leave for our vacation,” I say to Girl from the East as we drive home from our errands.

“Noooo,” she says, her voice descending into a low whine.  “Can’t the pet sitter feed it for us?”

As I maneuver through thick afternoon traffic, part of my brain grinds like a computer hard drive, plotting and planning the packing and preparation for our two-week road trip. The other part considers my girl’s request. I peek into the rear-view mirror. I see her face morph into a full-on pout: jutting lower lip, scrunched brow, feigned detachment.

I think of our vegetable gardens that need watering. I think of our two cats who need food, water and attention. I think of things like mail delivery and bill paying.

I think of the pet spider who lives in a bug jar on our kitchen window ledge.

I think my life is just a little crazy.

“No. I can’t ask the pet sitter to feed Spiderly Spider. That’s asking too much of anyone.”

“But why?”

Why, indeed.

How is it that a former arachnophobic (me) is now keeping a spider as a pet?

You know what’s weirdest of all? I’ve become attached to this thing.

It’s not your average spider. It’s a phidippus audax. It eats other spiders. Imagine that.

This whole crazy episode started when Girl from the East found the spider zipping around on the bright yellow walls of our downstairs bathroom.  I didn’t know what else to do with it but trap it in our bug catcher. I turned a moment of phobia making into a learning experience.

We’d keep it for a day or two, I thought. Then we Googled phidippus audax and learned all kinds of things, including their popularity  as pets (within a certain crowd, I suppose). Soon, we found ourselves hunting for insects and other spiders and watching Spiderly stalk and capture his dinner inside the bottle. While most spiders just sit in a web, which makes for a boring observational subject, this guy leaps and hops and waves his front legs like a symphony conductor.

Each day we said tomorrow will be the day we let it go.

“Can’t we take him with us,” Girl asks as we pull into the driveway and begin to unload the shopping bags.

“No. He’d be cooked alive in the car. Besides, we don’t bring our cats with us, either, because they would be sad.”

I imagine us hauling this spider halfway across the country, crawling around in hotel lobbies looking for ants,  the spider getting loose in the car … and then I notice the silence. The debate has ended.  She gets it.

So in a few days we’ll coax Spiderly out of his temporary quarters and into the food chain.
My mind turns to the wild woods of Montana, where we’ll be staying for one week of our vacation. There are some big, hairy spiders in those parts. None as tolerable as the phidippus audux.

I wonder how she’ll react when she sees one of those things ambling across the wooden floorboards?

What’s the weirdest pet you’ve ever kept? What crazy lengths do you go for your children?

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7 thoughts on “Eight reasons to say no

  1. The girl loved catching bugs and finding worms and snails when she was younger. I let her keep them all as outdoor pets so long as I never, ever had to touch them/go near them.

    You’re a stronger parent than I.

  2. You are a WAY better parent than I am. I’m a lifelong, card-carrying arachnophobe who pretends otherwise in order to keep her daughters from adopting the phobia. So far it’s working fairly well.

    As for pets, well, we just loosed two half-grown chickens from the upside down dog carrier we had in the one completely empty room of our house. Unbeknownst to me they had figured out how to jump out and spent their days exploring the room. I saw them only at night when they were obediently, smugly bunked in their prison. Yeah. Hello, Stanley Steamer?

  3. I couldn’t see the picture when I was reading your post on my iPHone so I have to say I was taken aback when I finally saw this cute sounding spider you are so attached to. Egads! He looks like a tarantula!

    When I was a little girl I had a pet tree frog called Elvis Croaker. He was awesome.

  4. Foolery: Chickens! We are contemplating getting a few hens for the yard. We are just waiting for the city to amend its ordinance. Much more cuddly than the spider, I’m sure.
    Libby: A leech? Did it follow you everywhere you went?
    Tanya: Ha.Ha. Sorry to scare you. This spider is much smaller than pictured. It is about the size of a thumbnail. I had a few newts and named every one of them Fig Newton.

  5. Pingback: Someday I’ll marry David Sedaris* | Middle State

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