A few days ago, Millie and I saw a spider as we were headed out on our walk. A huge, hairy spider. Guess where he was sitting? On my baby's stroller. That's right. He was sitting on her stroller, about six inches from her hand. He was just hanging out there, blinking in the sunlight. Millie looked at him appraisingly, wondering if she should try to shove him in her mouth.
I'm no expert in spider physiology, but this spider appeared to be in a great mood. He was probably having a really good morning, having recently found such a dry, comfortable place to live.
We noticed each other.
I snatched Millie from the stroller as quickly as possible, before anyone could shove anyone else in their mouth. The spider bolted---running down into the cracks of the stroller from whence the seat belts came.
"I live here now." He called to me, from his cavernous seatbelt stronghold "this seems like a really nice place for a spider to live."
"You don't live here" I said back to him, "And if you don't get out of there I'm going to have to beat you to death with a paper towel."
The spider must have assumed I was bluffing. Perhaps he could tell that I'm not the sort of person who usually beats spiders to death with paper towels. Maybe he could sense that I'm the sort of person who catches spiders in overturned cups and releases them outside.
This is true. In fact, several years ago Sean and I had a spider living in our bathroom who I named Mercucio and frequently saved from drowning in the shower. Mercucio thrived, and produced hundreds of other spiders, who were also named Mercucio. I refused to let Sean kill them, and every few days we would have to hold a "Mercucio Roundup" to catch all the Mercucios and place them safely outside. THAT'S how benevolent I am to spiders. But, those spiders weren't inches from my baby, and unfortunately for this spider, I wasn't bluffing. I was a mom backed into a corner. "Go ahead you spider son of a bitch," I said, "make my day."
The Spider hunkered down, refusing to move. I had no choice. I beat him to death with the paper towel.
I tried to make it a quick, efficient assassination, to minimize his spider suffering. I made sure to compost the paper towel afterwards-- I think he would have wanted it that way.
When Millie grows up, I hope she's the kind of person who brakes for butterflies and releases spiders. I plan to teach her NEVER to kill things for no reason (with the obvious exception of fire ants,) and to respect the sanctity of life, (unless that life is attached to a fire ant.) But, when it comes to protecting her kids, I hope Millie will fight like a tiger in a corner, and never let a pair of big, dopey spider eyes stop her from protecting her baby.