Tuesday, April 28, 2009

pooka, the spider hunter

our house, like many others, has spiders. mostly just the translucent yellow variety, although we have seen a much larger, and hairier, species once or twice. the yellow ones are essentially harmless. which is good, because lately they have been quite numerous. we typically take a modified live and let live stance. they have a safe 'spider' zone: anywhere higher than we can reach without aid. if they venture into the 'people' zone, we usually dispose of them. they congregate mostly in the kitchen, but perversely, they seem to like pooka's room second-best.

unfortunately, pooka has a fear of spiders. this, combined with her unnatural flair for melodrama, creates hysteria whenever she spies one. (in our house, that could be more than once a day.) since pooka has a loft bed, she is closer to the spider zone, and that amplifies her anxiety. we have had several nights post-bedtime where she left her room crying for us to kill a spider.

one night the hysteria got to be too much and kisu decided that it was time for pooka to face this fear. he told her that she had to kill her own spider. or she could ignore it and go to bed. she sobbed for at least 20 minutes. finally we realized the spider had left, and so she went to sleep.

a few nights later, the scene reoccurred. this time, i was on duty. i gave her the unused paper towel that kisu had provided before and gave her some pointers on spider smooshing. she just cried. after many pleas and attempts at bartering (on her part), i shut her in the room.

she lost privileges that night for her cowardice. she even lamented the fact that she was "such a cry-baby" --her words! after 35 minutes, kisu arrived to apply the muscle. (she responds to his discipline often, only rarely to mine, although we use the same threats techniques.) finally he delivered the ultimatum: "kill it or name it, because you're grounded to your room until you deal with it."

5 minutes later, she came out and said, truculently, "i did it, daddy." she was, i think, a little bit satisfied for having done it. when she opened the wad of paper towel to prove her skill, it was empty; she got defensive. from the privacy of my bedroom, i laughed. kisu helped her locate the maimed spider on the floor and finish it off. now she could rightly claim her first kill.

after many hugs and proclamations of pride and honor, she returned to bed. kisu and i went into the kitchen.

where we saw SEVEN more spiders.

they arrange memorial services quickly in the arachnid world.