On Monday night I was sitting in my comfy chair recovering from FHE and the resulting spiritual fatigue that had set in after posting my brilliant mormon.org profile. (Which you can read here...just kidding) My 14 year-old son walked in carrying a giant flashlight.
MMM: What's that for?
FOML3: When I was washing the porch on Saturday, I saw a black widow.
MMM: Did you get it?
FOML3: No, it crawled back under the edge of the house before I could.
I would like to stop here and point out a couple of things:
1) My son was doing chores on Saturday and lived to tell the tale.
2) He saw a black widow and waited 3 days to tell me.
MMM: So let's go find it.
FOML3: I already looked, but couldn't see it.
MMM: I'll help.
I extricated myself from my comfortable position and we went outside. He pointed out where the web was, and where he saw the spider. There were a couple of newer web strands that I kicked with my flip-flop. (Yes, you read that correctly: I'm an idiot) But we saw no spider. My son was ready to give up and go in. Not me.
I looked around the area to see if I could find where it was hiding. Next to the wall was the bike rack, with two bikes, and on the ground were three helmets. I pointed to one of the helmets.
MMM: If I were a spider, that is where I would hide. Look - there are webs on it.
FOML3: That is disgusting.
We shined the flashlight in the helmet, but couldn't see anything. My gut told me there was a spider in there. The helmet belonged to my youngest son - he's the only one we can still cajole into wearing one.
MMM: Let's take this in and see if we can find it.
FOML3: In the house? Are you crazy? Don't pick it up! (I picked it up)
MMM: Here, you carry it.
FOML3: No way!
MMM: Oh, it's fine. (This was false bravado, I was plenty nervous)
What was making this enjoyable is that FOML3 really hates spiders. During this whole process he was doing the whole "involuntary shudder" thing, which is really quite entertaining, as long as it is happening to someone else.
We took the helmet in the kitchen and started filling the sink. I dropped the helmet in, and it floated. That meant I had to push it down and hold it under the water to drown this critter. As the water rose, the spider slowly emerged from one of the holes in the helmet and attempted to climb to higher ground. However, higher ground was occupied by my hand. (Involuntary shudder)
I shook the helmet and the spider fell off into the water. My son pulled out his phone and took a picture. Here he is: Oops, here SHE is:
I told my son to reach down and pull the drain stopper. He actually said "Are you crazy?" So I did it. A quick flick of the garbage disposal switch and our nemesis was no more. We took apart the helmet and put it on a towel to dry.
It was about this time that my EC walked in and asked what we were doing with FOML5's helmet. FOML3 quickly related the story, and my wife exercised such restraint as I have never witnessed. Why? Not because a black widow had taken up residence in my youngest child's bicycle helmet, but because...
...it was my fault.
I knew it, and she knew it. But she didn't say a word. She didn't need to. I felt so guilty. She looked at me, and the reaction must have been blatant, because my son was suddenly curious and asking what was the wrong. Neither of us told him that it was my fault.
You are probably wondering why I am willing to take the blame for something that can easily happen to anyone. Who can control nature? So here's the quick backstory:
Earlier in the year I was late paying the exterminator. We started getting phone calls. Dozens. With the computerized auto-dialer. They were relentless. Dozens of calls a day. After a couple days of this, I told the rep that I would take care of the bill, but if they ever call me again with the auto-dialer, I would never do business with them again! We had been good customers for 10 years, and they were driving me crazy with the computerized phone calls.
They called back. So, being "a man of integrity", I cancelled the service. My EC was not pleased, but I reassured her I would get someone else to do it. I never did.
Basically, the thought that was running through both our minds was this: My ridiculous stubbornness put our son in jeopardy. I let my personal, petty feelings get in the way of protecting my family. Imagine my son putting that helmet on, pedaling off to school...
Today I'm calling the exterminator.
As always, I look for lessons in life experiences. This one has bunches. Feel free to find your own messages in this.