I was playing with Ellie upstairs when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a small spider on the guest room door. We ran over to assess the situation.
“Ewwww!” she said. She grabbed the bottom of my shirt with one hand and pointed at the eight-legged beast with the other. Hopping up and down nervously, she clearly instructed me to “GET IT, MAMA!”
So I DID. I got a Kleenex out of the kids’ bathroom and squished the spider; then I flushed it as she watched me. “Oooooh! Bye bye, ‘pider!” We waved as the spider was whirled away in the watery cyclone.
Benjamin came over and wanted to know what was going on. “Mama flushed a ‘pider!” Ellie explained.
“MAMA? You flushed a spider down the TOILET?”
I smiled at him as Ellie hugged me. “Yep!” (I am the triumphant spider killer, valiant defender of my family!)
“Why did you do that?”
“Well, we don’t want spiders in the house, right?” (Logic is on my side, boy!)
“Sure we do! I love everything in nature, and spiders are part of nature.”
“That’s true, yes.” (You are correct, son, but I am still way more righter.)
“Did you smush him first, or was he alive when you flushed him?”
“I smushed him first.” (This is the right answer, I just know it.)
“Oh, Mama! That’s so mean. Then he couldn’t breathe!”
“Well, no, but I was thinking that then he wouldn’t drown slowly in the water. This was much quicker and kinder.” (Er…right?)
His little shoulders slumped and he shook his head, suffering incredulous disbelief over my obvious stupidity.
“Mama, that spider probably had a family! Now they’re going to miss him so much.”
“Well, I guess that’s true…” (Smugness…waning…)
“You broke my heart by killing that spider, Mama. You really broke my heart.”
“I’m sorry, Ben.” (Man, I STINK.)
Tears welled up in his eyes.
“My heart is broken. You shouldn’t have killed him.”
“But then he would’ve crawled around in our house and crawled on us while we were sleeping. What would you think about that?” (One point for me!)
“I would like that! It would tickle.”
“But what if he bit you?” (What about that, hmmmm?)
“I wouldn’t care!”
“Really.” (I don’t believe you, but I do admire your resolve.)
“Nope! Would it hurt, though? Well, maybe I wish you’d just taken him outside, then, instead of killing him.”
“My gramma used to do that. She’d scoop up the spider in her hand and take it right outside and let it go in the grass.” (Let’s talk about something else, like how cool my Gramma was!)
“Yeah, that’s what you should do. And then you could just say, ‘Have a nice day, spider!’ instead of making it lose its whole life.”
“That’s a really good point, Ben.” (Good, and also exhausting.)
“Yeah. It was really, really mean, what you did.”
“I’m so sorry, buddy. I’ll ask for your help next time, okay? And we can figure out the best solution together.” (And the solution will be that YOU can pick up the spider! See how brave you are then, Nature Boy!)
“I love you, Ben.”
“Love you too, Mama.”
I wondered, afterwards, what will happen when if we get a mouse in the house, or when it hits him that he regularly eats a variety of animal products. I sat there and imagined the moment he figures it out. He’ll likely demand that we change our dietary structure immediately, that we all become vegetarians, or maybe even vegans. I’ll heartily agree that it’s a better, healthier way to eat, and come up with vegetarian meal options for the family. (I already did this once, a few years ago, when I got on yet another vegetarian kick after watching Food, Inc.)
The whole thing will probably only last until the nearest Saturday, when he learns that he can’t have…*gasp*…BACON with his favorite weekend breakfast. Because this, folks, is how that child feels about bacon:
Regardless of my premature daydreams of possible bacon deprivation, I’m feeling really happy that the boy feels strongly about all of the world’s creatures. It shows that he’s developing a compassionate and loving heart – and in my humble opinion, there is absolutely nothing that will serve him better in life than that.