The first time my son threw a temper tantrum, it was because I wouldn't let him touch the black widow spider protecting her eggs on a plant next to our front steps. He threw his body down onto the grass and thrashed about, lamenting the injustice of it all. His evil mother would not let him play with the cute, albeit highly poisonous, mama spider that was undoubtedly equipped with maternal-rage tendencies.
My daughter just threw her first temper tantrum, face red from vacillating between holding her breath and letting out high-pitched wails, because the same evil mother would not let her play with the brown recluse spider she had found on the carpet.
What is with my children tantrum-spinning over web spinners?
When my son lost his ever-toddler mind over Itsy Bitsy, it had been hilarious — my first taste of what I now know is a common thread in parenting: laughing at your children. I wish I could say laughing with them, but they are never in on the joke. And really, you, the parent, aren't in on it, either. You're simply laughing because you have no other choice. You're laughing because of the absurdity of it all. This whole child rearing thing is an exercise in surrealism.
When my daughter roly-polied onto the floor in a fit of frustration, I had less time to chuckle. My first priority was catching the spider, who kept effectively hiding himself in the heavy shag rug before our fireplace — a favorite playing area for my son, daughter and 18-pound rabbit, Pig.
When I had first seen the fanged beast, he was gallivanting toward my toddler, eight legs outstretched, prepared to prevail or perish; there would be no prisoners.
OK, OK. Really, I had just seen a quick flash of brown before something buried itself in the faux fur rug again. I almost ignored it altogether, assuming it was a stink bug or something else innocuous. But I figured I might as well make sure, so I began rubbing my hands through the thick rug. And there he was.
To be fair, he was more running away from us than he was running toward us. And I didn't actually see his fangs. I more just assumed he had them.
While my daughter tried to make acquaintance with the arachnid, I did my best to play kiddie keep-away while unloading every drawer and cabinet in search of a see-through glass to capture the spider. Is there a rule written on stone somewhere that states that after you have children, every cup you own must be covered in the knockoff version of your kid's favorite animated character, such as Markey Mouse or Superb Man?
Meanwhile, my son decided to use his new broomball stick and pretend the spider was the ball. Naturally, I screamed at him to stop, but I couldn't help but admit that my son's affinity for playing sports in the house was the only reason I still knew where Mr. Poison Pants was hiding out.
Equipped with clear Tupperware, I covered the spider, trapping him. Then I forbade both of my children to touch or go anywhere near the spider or his new home until I could figure out how to remove him from the house. My daughter, of course, is too young to understand that type of directive. My son was too intrigued to care. And now I was stuck figuring out what to do with the beast. Sure, I could spray him or squash him to death, but something in me has changed since moving to the wild. I have a "live and let live" mentality.
How could I smash Scotty now? He was a part of our home. (In hindsight, perhaps naming him Scotty didn't help.) But with my daughter throwing herself on the ground every time I stopped her from throwing her body on top of the Tupperware spider prison and my son claiming that the brown recluse was his archnemesis from another dimension and one bug dinner away from growing to sasquatch size, a decision had to be made. He would be flushed.
To abate a tag-team tantrum from kids thinking I was killing their new pet, I explained to them — and to Scotty — that he was welcome to survive the flushing; he just wasn't welcome to crawl back up our drain.
A few days later, we were informed the sewer line leaving our house had broken. I'm not saying Scotty turned into a sasquatch. I'm just not saying he didn't.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.