Name That Spider
After moving three times over a period of 14 months (the houses we rented kept selling out from under us), my family began to wonder whether we should even bother unpacking or if we should just start living out of cardboard boxes. We finally found a house that (knock on wood) we have managed to occupy now for two years without that dirty four-letter word (SOLD) appearing in the front lawn.
There’s only one tiny little thing wrong with the place: the landlord says no pets. Well, that wasn’t too much of a problem at first. We farmed our kitty out to Grandma, and I think the cat was actually glad for the reprieve. Our one-year-old daughter was beginning to enjoy chasing the cat, pulling her tail and whiskers; you know – all those fun cat-things that kids do.
But now our girls are older (ages two and three), and they really need a pet. I mean, it’s one thing for them to befriend the birds that have nested in our chimney, answering back when they hear them chirping inside the stove pipe. But when the girls started asking if they could pet the spiders they found festooning the corners of our living room, I began to feel I was depriving them of a normal childhood pleasure. You shouldn’t have to pet spiders for companionship.
It is universally recognized now that pets are good for people, especially for youngsters. You can learn a lot from a pet. By having pet cats when I was young(er), I learned that (a) cats don’t always land on their feet; (b) canned cat food smells horrid; and (c) when you want to make a sandwich, don’t use the knife that has been rinsed off and left lying on the counter, because it was probably used to dig the horrid smelling cat food out of the can. Even if it wasn’t, your brother will come along and convince you that it was, and your appetite will be ruined anyway.
Pets also teach you to take on responsibilities. I can personally attest to how responsible my mother has become after having to care for all of her children’s pets over the years.
Not wanting to be evicted by our landlords, we have refused to allow the kids to have a cat or a dog. But I figured maybe we could get away with something more “low profile,” something that wouldn’t pee on the carpets or climb the drapes. So I took the girls to a pet store to see if we could find a compatible companion for them.
I ruled the ferrets out first thing; they have too many teeth. Besides, if I remember correctly, ferrets have the same odoriferous talents as their cousin the skunk, though slightly less offensive. The boa constrictor, huggable as he appeared, was also nixed. I was afraid he might hug back.
There was quite an assortment of rodents: hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, even a fluffy “teddy bear” hamster that would endear itself into anyone’s heart, even my landlord’s. The only problem with these critters is that they sleep all day and get up to play in the middle of the night. Their favorite activity during those midnight hours is to run ad nauseam in their little exercise wheels, and the wheel invariably develops a squeak that would raise the dead. Not a pleasant sound at two o’clock a.m. Cute as he was, the teddy bear hamster was staying in
The girls liked the birds, especially the big (and expensive) parrot. But we already have birds in our chimney, after all, and if we want to hear them sing, all we have to do is rattle the stove pipe. So why bother buying what we can already enjoy for free?
Fish? Too much paraphernalia and you can’t teach them to do tricks (except to roll over and play dead, but usually when they do that, they actually are dead). And they’re awfully difficult to pet.
But then, so are spiders. Maybe I should just let the girls keep playing with the arachnids at home. After all, they don’t take up much room, they won’t eat my daughters, and if they die, I can just vacuum them away. No need for pet cemeteries in the back yard. Best of all, the price is right!
So I guess all I need to figure out is, what do you name a pet spider?
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For the record, when we moved from that house, we did end up getting cats and birds and fish and mice and frogs. We left the spiders there.