In the spirit of Halloween and creepy-crawlies everywhere...
...I’m offering you a gift today. A gift of pure lunacy straight from my life. Take it or leave it, but today I'm sharing the absurdity behind how I gave up the fear of spiders, why I believe it matters for mamas and their kiddos, and how you can learn to love (read: tolerate) the little guys too! All in six easy, *totally sane, not at all over-reactionary* steps that YOU can implement today and laugh about tomorrow!
Ready or not, here we go!
How to overcome arachnophobia, and why it matters:
1 | Recognize who is in charge
Have you ever considered that YOU are the giant monster? Or that you CAN outrun these tiny beasts? Let’s be real, y’all… even the BIGGEST spider you’ve ever seen could likely fit in the palm of your hand, and most definitely will run for his life at the sight of the giant monster (YOU) with the death machine (your shoe). When you’re able to convince yourself that something the size of your thumbnail couldn’t possibly nibble you to death in your sleep, leaving only bones and cartilage for your kids to find in the morning…. that’s when you’ll know you’re ready to move on to the next step:
2 | Give them a universal name
Don't skip this step! It may be the most important! I made Mercy sit in the corner one time, despite the tiny jumping spider that was hanging out there, too. She was scared, but I knew he was harmless and wouldn't bite her even if he could… so I suggested we name him, then she talked to him for the duration of timeout. And to keep from appearing rude, we immediately ceased calling these tiny creatures ‘spiders’. We call them by their name: John.
Fact #1: It is 100% harder to kill something after you have given it a name.
Fact #2: It becomes even harder to kill something when your three year old cries after her daddy kills her beloved John right in front of her, per. your. request.
3 | Educate yourself - join Antman’s Hill on Facebook
There are two (TWO) spiders in this country who’s venom is “harmful” to humans (excluding, in some cases, the very young, very old, allergic and/or immunocompromised). One is shy and unaggressive, and the other doesn’t have fangs big enough to break typical human skin. Learn to ID these two guys like you can ID your kid on the playground….
Also, it is a myth that in a lifetime humans eat eight spiders in our sleep. Get your facts/myths straight, the horror stories you hear are (by and large) not true.
Learn about their role in your backyard and commit to singing “the circle of life” every time you spot one. After (and only after) you begin to appreciate their free pest control services, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
4 | Go on a rescue mission... and bring your kids!
It’s important for your kids to see you do brave things for them!
In my own first rescue, Mercy watched and listened as I used a hanger to coax a dime sized wolf spider into a small trash can and subsequently release him in the backyard. Sounds nice and easy, right?
Here’s what she saw: half an hour of jumping, spastic, hanger-throwing insanity, accompanied by sopping cold sweat and a visible heartbeat thumping way too fast.… all followed by the heaving of the plastic trash bin deep into the backyard for her daddy to retrieve.
Here’s what she heard: half an hour of loud and incoherent screeching and yelping at every flinch of the tiny creature (that was already trapped in the bathtub.)
Here’s what she experienced: SO. MUCH. shared laughter (at my expense), quality time and hysteria with her (lunatic) mama, and sheer joy watching John run free to find his family.
Here we go! If you think you might be ready, follow this step-by-step guide (that is totally, not at all, in any way based on a true story) to get through your own first rescue mission in one piece:
Y’all, trust me on this: in the face of your first rescue you’re going to want to back out, burn your house to the ground, and teach your kids your most irrational dance moves and loudest yelping skills… Don’t worry, it’s normal. Your future rescues will get easier and easier. You might even start to like the little guys.
5 | Keep it up... Consider why it matters!
Here's why I think it matters: She watches and learns from everything I do. She knows what I love and what I hate, and she feels the same way. She knows how I react and respond to behaviors and people and critters, and she mimics those reactions. She knows I won't do anything for her, but that I will do most things for her... things that are safe, harmless, educational, and opportunities to learn and grow. Even if it's something that I don't like. "Overcome arachnophobia" was not on my to-do list. But by tackling this, she saw me do something hard for her, face a BIG fear, sacrifice personal comfort just to see those moments of joy on her face, waving to the grass and shouting, "Bye John! We'll miss you!" And then we get to talk, learn about creation, the circle of life, and the discernment between rational and irrational fear... and all of that matters. SO much.
6 | Enjoy the cuteness of your kids new found interest
And of course, say "YES!" when they beg to be pink and orange spiders for halloween.