Arachnophobia 101

The problem with growing up- and worse, with taking care of children- is that you are no longer allowed to be afraid of spiders.

When you’re on your own, you’re well within your rights to scream, flail, run away, smite the spider with a crowbar, or gently set your house on fire and leave. When children come into the picture, however, that’s no longer okay. You must be calm and collected. “Spiders aren’t that big a deal, and I don’t know why you’re getting so worked up about it,” is what you must convey.

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Now I can’t tell if there’s an actual spiderweb in my bookcase.

Worse still, I’ve never been able to stomach killing spiders. Wasps? Certainly. Flies? All the time. Mosquitoes? I kill them slowly out of spite. But spiders, for a start, like to eat mosquitoes, and that makes me feel like we should be more on the same team than not.

For another thing, spiders never really bother me, as such. I’ve been bitten by them once or twice over my life, usually on my feet when they get trapped under the blankets with me and gracefully freak out, but that’s so rare an occurrence that I feel as though I have no real right to revenge against the whole species.

So when I actually come across a spider, I usually race to find a cup and a piece of paper to put it outside. There are two problems with this: The first is that in doing so you must put your hands dreadfully close to the spider in question. The second is that in the seven seconds it took you to find a cup and a paper, the spider has completely vanished.

(One benefit to children is that they will watch it like a hawk for you while you locate the removal tools. “I never let it out of my sight, Miss Jean,” they will say proudly. “It crawled right up the wall and is now on the highest point of the ceiling, see it?”)

But I was starting to get the hang of it all. Being a nanny had reduced my arachnophobia out of necessity. I would hardly think twice before scooping up the nearest spider and depositing it into the wild.

Until the other day when I found a small spider in the bathroom. Easy enough. I located a cup and paper, confidently moved to catch it, and itjumpedohmygoditjumpedit’sajumpingspideritjumped

Jumping spiders are, apparently, a thing on the east coast. Up until now I had only read about them in books. Far be it from me to question the wise workings of God, but I can’t imagine thinking, “Well, these eight-legged many-eyed hairy twitchy fast moving monstrosities are just about done. I wonder what would make them better? Oh, I know, the ability to spontaneously fly at your face.

I had to kill that one; it was moving too quickly for the cup. I felt bad about that one. I lit a candle.

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But not before pressing the shoe down firmly to make sure it was really dead.

And then, just today, I had cleaned my bathroom. Remarkable, I know. But, you see, when I went to open the window to filter out the chemical smell, therewasanotherjumpingspiderohmygodwhy

It lives between the screen and the window. I can never open my bathroom window again.

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This will be shut forever now.

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