Monday, 25 October 2010

13. Magpie, Bugs and the Basement of Doom

Woodlice, the unwanted companions of all basement flat-dwellers
Last Sunday I was cooking breakfast (one of the few meals I can actually cook), when Big Daddy turned to Magpie, who - as far as I could see without my glasses on - had a look on her face that was both sheepish and triumphant.

This is how the next (horrifc) few seconds unfolded:

Big Daddy:  'Magpie, darling, what have you got in your hand?  Oh my God!  Drop! Drop it now!  (giving our daughter the same instruction as he would our labrador chewing another dog's tennis ball)

Me:  ' Christ, what is it, what has she got? What HAS she got?!'

Big Daddy:  A HUGE spider!  It's ginormous!  She was just holding it, legs dangling out of the side of her hand, and now it's done a complete runner!  It was THE, yes THE biggest spider I have EVER seen in London!'

He should know.  He grew up in Africa.  Big Daddy has seen some of the biggest spiders EVER!  Just talking about spiders reduces my lexicon to the capital letters, exclamation marks and general panic of an arachnophobic childhood (or a tabloid journalist).

Big Daddy caught the spider, saving possibly my day, but not Magpie's - she looked a little confused by the kerfuffle.  'Dere!' she said, (meaning 'There') pointing to the front door.  She already missed the spider, whereas I'd rather kill myself than set eyes on the thing.

Oh the joys of living in a basement.  We seem to live with more bugs than a target of MI5.

Unlike the tomboy Tank, who might be expected to dabble in a love of creepy crawlies, Magpie is a mistress of contradiction.  Her first love is of all things shiny.  I've never looked at a spider closely enough to notice if I can see my reflection in its body (urgh the very thought) but Magpie's bug-love appears to be growing, and overtaking her love of bright beads, jewells and earrings.

A few months ago she mistook a woodlouse (or pillball, if you are American) for a blueberry: when curled up, the bugs are disturbingly similar.

A frightened woodlouse curls up in scary situations (e.g. at the approach of an exhuberant toddler)
I have also caught her trying to eat a vacated snail shell and an earth worm which she was waving from her thumb and forefinger like a dangly earring.

 I could cope with the bugs...just not the SPIDERS.

What if Magpie is showing burgeoning interest in becoming an entomologist, and I manage to give her my phobia so she will choose to work with jewellery instead?  Not that there's anything wrong with working with jewellery ***SNOBBISHNESS SPOILER ALERT*** unless she ends up being one of those perm-haired, gum-chewing dimwits in H.M. Samuel who wears rings on every finger, including a soverign ring on her thumb.

The idea of me, the World's Greatest Arachnaphobe, nurting a daughter's interest in insects and arachnids would carry extraordinary irony.  Would I become the greatest sacrifical parent ever?  Letting go of my greatest fear for my child's greater good?

Does anyone know a short-cut to becoming an arachnophile?  Or has anyone had hypnotherapy / phobia treatment that is short, sweet and tremendously effective?

PS You may have noticed I have the acute sensitivity of a real arachnaphobe: I have not uploaded a scary image.


  1. I don't know what I would do if The Fairy had a spider in her hand, probably scream and make her cry!
    Thank you so much for your message and for following my blog. Are we able to communicate outside the bloggersphere? I've looked for a message thing, but can't find it (you've probably gathered I'm not very up-to-speed with all this)!! I'll also have another go at the badge!! x

  2. I will send you a message via BMB - we can communicate that way! I want somebody else's badge, but once again have no idea how to do it either....the wonders of being a blogger (almost) virgin! x

  3. Very funny post which made me giggle! Magpie is so incredibly sweet. I wasn't at all fazed by bugs when I was little but then puberty hit and so did the "EW! YUCK!" reflex so even if they seem to be budding entomologists now it may not necessarily be a lifelong obsession! x

  4. So true but it's a fun fantasy! And I just don't want to encourage my crazy squeaky-girl-on-a-chair antics! X