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The Black Widow

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Parents who laugh at their crying kids are jerkfaces.

Lists about “stupid things kids cry about,” including pictures of toddlers wailing over something the parents deemed ridiculous, are always trending on the Web. And I hate them. Those parents should have their reproducing rights revoked.

How could any good parent whip out a camera rather than offer a hug? Sure, the kid is a slobbering, sobbing mess simply because he’s not being allowed to wear his mother’s maxi pads as stickers. But so what? It’s not funny to the child, so it’s not funny to me.

At least, that’s how I used to feel.

Dear Laughing Parents: So sorry about that whole revoking your procreating permit line. And really, hate is a strong word. You see, I was looking down on you from the luxury of not yet having a full-on toddler. My son just turned 2, and tantrums are new to me. Please forgive my ignorance. I now understand that sometimes there is hilarity in the hysteria.

A few days ago, I was doing some gardening and came across a black widow and her egg sac by the windowsill outside my home. I did what any rational adult would do: I screamed, jumped back about 10 feet and wondered whether it was time to change my decision about gun ownership. While my whole body shook as if trying to shake off the spider that I could still visibly see in her web, I considered whether torching the entire lawn would be too drastic of a move. I certainly wouldn’t want the house to catch fire, but I thought it might be worth the risk.

While I was contemplating whether to call the fire department before or after I set fire to the yard, my son took a few strides toward the spider, arms outstretched, as if he were Shaggy running away from some scary, ghostly, monstrous beasts. And I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and that dog, Scooby Doo. Only in this case, the monstrous beast was real, and “getting away with it” meant the hatching of her millions of baby black widows, who would come to infest our home and take us hostage in their webs, baiting us so many times that our bodies would turn into a living Twister mat for their eight-legged amusement.

What? I have it on good authority that kid spiders play Twister, too.

My son’s advances toward the spider pulled me out of my nightmarish reverie.

Before he grabbed the black widow, I pulled him back. He looked at me with hurt curiosity. Why wouldn’t I let him hold the pretty spider with the red hourglass design aggressively protecting her egg sac? She seemed like a great new friend.

I crouched down and told my son that there are two different kinds of spiders — good spiders (I lied) and bad spiders. Bad spiders can hurt you, and this was a bad spider. And then, just to drive home the point, I said the magic words: “No touch.”

To which my not-so-terrible but very 2-year-old son said with indignant determination, “Yes, touch.”

A giggle escaped.

I couldn’t help it. He was so cute in his suicidal ambition. Smiling, I said, “No. No touch. That spider can hurt you.”

“Touch the spider,” he wailed, lunging for the web again.

I held him back, at which point my son dropped to the ground, thrashing, sobbing, choking on the words, “Touch bwack winnow spider.”

And I laughed.

My husband came around the corner with a garbage bag to take away the spider after we cut the branch holding the web and egg sac off the bush. Burning down the house became our plan B. As my husband came into sight, I called out, “Do you have your phone on you? We have to get a picture of this kid!”

My son and I were both hysterical, just in very different ways. I didn’t get down on my knees to hug my sobbing child. I mean, I did. Just not right away. Not before the potential of a photo op was addressed — which, sadly, was not captured.

But I’m not too concerned; we’ll get a crazy-kid-crying picture eventually — especially because my son is on an obsessive hunt for a bwack winnow spider to cuddle.

Excuse me while I have a heart attack.

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