Tuesday, September 2, 2008


This morning, after I unfolded from sleep, I was about to step in the shower, but discovered it already occupied by a large brown spider. I gave a quick yelp and Scott came running in, smooshing the creep in a wad of toilet paper. I flushed it to make sure the beastie was really dead. Goose bumps crawled up and down my arms until I was almost done with the shower.

I don't care for spiders.

Later, as I was nestled into the couch, nursing my wiggly girl, I saw another spider scurry across the rug. I said, "Oh! There's another big spider!" Scott was, again, to the rescue. However, this time the note of panic in my voice reached Milo, and he dove onto the couch as if avoiding a man-eater. In fact, his question was, "Was it big enough to eat me?"

No, the spider wasn't big enough to eat him. We explained the jobs that spiders do for us -- killing other bugs and making beautiful webs. I'm not sure he bought it, but then, neither do I. Spiders are creepy no matter how you look at them.

It made me think about how much of our own fear we impart on our dear children. Milo is usually a bug-a-holic; he's a champion bug stomper. Or, at least he was until he saw how afraid I was. What other things have I taught him to fear?

Not water -- I barely blinked as, at the ripe old age of four months, a wave of water washed over his head while he was in the pool, swimming with daddy and his cousins and daddy's cousins. Everyone else sitting on the side of the pool about leapt in the water, even though the babe was safely cradled in his daddy's quite capable arms. I didn't flinch, Scott didn't flinch, and Milo didn't flinch.

Not crowds -- he'll bravely charge into a group of strangers if there's something interesting in their midst. We went to the Brookfield Zoo when he was about 13 months old. He decided all on his own that he was more interested in following any family with more than one child than in sticking with his boring old parents.

Not heights -- Although you'll never catch me balancing atop a ladder atop a piece of scenery fifteen feet above the deck, Scott is remarkably comfortable up there and, apparently, he has passed the monkey gene onto his progeny. It makes me nauseous to watch, but they can all climb all over anything.

What I truly hope that he never fears is people. Especially people who don't look like him, talk like him, or live like him. I cringe when I hear other family members pass racial and cultural slurs as easily as passing the stuffing at Thanksgiving. I hate it when I hear people who raised us say things that illuminate their fear and ignorance about other cultures. It's my biggest issue about living in the Midwest -- we're a bunch of homogenized white milk around here. I want my kids to understand that there is more than one way to look at our world, to recognize that your point of view is as valid as mine is.

Sometimes I feel like that spider in my tub -- trying like hell to climb out of the shiny white world into which I've slipped before I get squashed. I guess that's my fear -- never getting the chance to experience more of my world. Maybe it's OK to pass that one on...

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