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Like mother, like daughter (09/08/2004)
By Cynthya Porter

OK. Sometimes I'm a bad mother.

Just ask my eleven-year-old daughter.

Eleven is kind of that gray zone where we're just testing out self-supervised time at home. I'm not crazy about it yet, but when she got the flu on deadline day I figured she couldn't get into much trouble lying in my bed watching TV.

But then I get the phone call.

"Mom, you have to come home."


"Because there's a spider in your room."


"Just kill it," I tell her, mildly annoyed at her squeamishness when I'm in the full throes of a hectic deadline.

"Nooooooo," she wails, "it's really big."

So I'm thinking, for crying out loud, if it's that big it could eat you before I travel the two miles to our house.

"Just KILL it with a shoe out of my closet," I insist.

Now she is crying. "Nooooo Mom, it's huge and I'm really scared."


I should mention that my daughter has something of a flair for the dramatic, and while I know it is probably a spindly-legged daddy-long-legs, I also know we are not going to resolve this situation on the phone.

I should also mention that I hate spiders, considering them something akin to cryptonite for Superman. Even so, I know I must be the bigger of us two, being that I actually am the bigger of us two, and administer control to the situation.

Still, on the way home I fume a little, wondering how I'm going to make this girl a little tougher for the next spider situation that may happen along.

On my way through the porch I grabbed the only poison-type thing I could find - wasp spray in a big, black can. Whether it says wasps or spiders on it, I know if I can't spray it in my mouth it's poison and it should do the trick.

In my bedroom, my daughter is sitting with her legs curled under her on my pillow.

"Where is it?" I ask.

"I don't know," she says.

So I stare at her blankly. "What do you mean you don't know? Where was it?"

"On your bathrobe," she says.

I shudder.

My bathrobe is lying across the chair near my bed, and my daughter inches off the bed and toward the door as I gingerly pick up the robe and give it a little shake.


I give it another shake and the biggest spider I have ever seen in person drops with a thump to the floor and starts running toward my feet.

Now, when I said my daughter had inched off the bed and toward the door, to be more precise, she was standing in between me and the door.

But suddenly, there was no daughter, no poison, no nothing except me and a huge, horrible spider chasing me, so I scream and almost barrel her to the floor trying to get out of the room.

Outside of the bedroom her eyes are wild with fear and so are mine. One of us has to go back in. Reluctantly, I realize it has to be me.

So this all happened pretty fast, and the spider hadn't actually crossed much of my wooden bedroom floor in the meantime. Actually, at the moment it had stopped altogether and was just standing there looking horrible.

And when I say horrible, I'm not kidding.

Never in my life have I seen a spider quite so big or quite so...prehistoric looking. All fat and tannish and knobby-legged, I stared at it half in horror and half in curiosity fas to where this terrible creature had come from.

Then, with a quick sideways glance, I confirmed that next to the bathrobe and the chair was a suitcase that had just returned with me from Kansas. My guess was this guy was a hitchhiker who was just as horrified to see me as I was him.

But so what. He was in my bedroom.

With the force of a fire hose I sent a stream of wasp poison his way, but this spider is unimpressed.

Lightning fast, he starts to run, and all the poison is doing is making the floor slippery, which slows him down just a little.

I keep spraying, because the spider is such a curiosity I'd like to spray him dead and then turn him over to the spider-authorities I know at Saint Mary's University for identification.

But this spider laughs at my silly wasp spray, wheeling across the slippery floor toward my husband's closet, where he will be lost forever until emerging with an army to take over our house.

Whack! No choice.

Meanwhile, my daughter is staring at me with a smug look as I slip and slide my way across a full can of wasp spray, choking and eyes stinging.

"I told you, Mom," she said indignantly.

"I'm sorry, honey," I tell her, wiping my hands on my jeans. "I shouldn't have tried to knock you over. You'd better watch TV downstairs."

"Yeah," she agreed.

So we had that moment, my daughter and I, where she was right and I was wrong, and I was just as human as she and she knew it. I'd like to say it brought us closer or made me or her braver, but really all it meant is that she doesn't like to watch TV in my room anymore. 


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