8 legs, 1 life

Wisdom, they call it, at the root of that reptilian-twitch,

I put the mundane down, look over my shoulder and slowly follow my body out the door.

His words are muffled by the back of his bent curious head:

“Mama, I found something!”

Of course he did. And I immediately know it’s that something that righted my spine like an antenna.

I tread quickly across the grass and very intentionally throw a thick blanket on my inclined-haste as I pull him closer to my body. To inspect the under-belly of stone we step over daily.

And there she is. Upside down and in full display of that most-notorious mark.

“Love, this is a very dangerous spider,” I assess.

He bends in closer and asks, “It is?”

I pull him back, “It is.”

After I explain indepth, I ask him to summarize his understanding.

“So if this spider bites me, I have to go to the hos-bi-tal. And get lots of band-aids. Dora band-aids.”

I hesitate. And then concede.

I send a picture of the red hourglass to my husband and father-in-law.

They confirm the diagnosis with the echoing commands to kill it.

Everything in me curls inward. Killing is not my thing and I cling to my standby, transparency:

“Your papa says I have to kill it. But I don’t want to.”

An invisible hand clutches my heart as my 2-year literally shuffles a step forward and says, “Mama. Don’t worry. You don’t have to kill it. I will kill it for you.”

Adoration aside, I get lost in mysterious feelings of gender-challenge, and thus go looking for an appropriate tool.

A snow-shovel seems to provide me the level of distance from the task that I seek.

I apologize outloud. And the deed is quickly done.

But I couldn’t hang my new heaviness up in the garage with the snow shovel.

And not a day later, I found my toddler thumbing the life out of ants.

My talk of momma-ants and pappa-ants and their haunted, empty, lives in the absence of their thumbed-out son and daughter-ants,

did nothing.

The trip to the science center where a Theraphosidae took huge, hairy, deliberate eight-legged steps up his tiny arm,

did nothing.

“It was a NICE spider Mamma!”

I praised this declaration with all heights of sing-song recognition.

But the daddy-long still lost all his legs in the single unsupervised leg of travel between the bedroom and patio.

“Can I put fire on the bumble bee?”

My heart stubbs out like a cigarette.

And just when I have convinced my tortured soul that this might simply all be the natural course of 2-year old boy’s experimentation with life and death, he will say something like:

“But Mama, you killed that spider.”

And my shoulders slump in defeat.

rest in peace black widow

I did. I killed that spider.

And although my son will, certainly, learn through his own trial and error of the distance between life and death and snow shovel.

It’s my lesson on teaching,

that has sunk in.


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