Photo by: Stephen Needs

Jimmy the Spider

Photo by: Stephen Needs

The kids are dying for a dog. They talk about dogs, they look at dogs, they run after dogs on the playground, they look at dog pictures, tell dog stories and ask for one several times a week. I am not dying for a dog. Not because I don’t love dogs – I do.

The first love of my life was a St. Bernard female, big and lazy. She shed everywhere, slobbered profusely, couldn’t do any tricks, ate the food off my plate if my attention lapsed for even a second, and woke me up in the middle of the night to let her out. Also, she didn’t like children much (except for me) and she really didn’t like them to run. That made her crazy, and she’d growl until you slowed down. I loved her to bits. I used to lie on the floor hugging and kissing her and playing with her paws. When I was smaller, I’d push the footstool up beside her, climb on, grab her collar and ride her like a horse around the living room until I slid off her loose coat. She was brilliant.

However, I just can’t handle a pet in the house right now. I’m barely able to cope with two boys, and I can’t imagine throwing a dog into the mix – with the walking and the feeding and the attention and the training and the commitment and the vet bills. Not right now – but someday yes. In the meantime, I thought recently, I’ve got to get them to stop haranguing me for a dog. I keep saying soon, and the 5 year old is starting to think that soon means never.

The other day, I had Max, the 2 year old, on the counter in the bathroom, changing him. Zach, 5 years old going on 13, was washing his hands next to us. I heard Max yell, “Ah! A Pider!” We looked up and there was a GIANT spider on the far wall. Zach yelled, “Yikes!”

They freaked out (the thing was the size of my hand), until I said, “Hey, guys, what are you screaming about? That’s our new pet Spider! He’s come to live with us. He’s the perfect pet – very low maintenance.”

That calmed them down immediately. They started smiling at the spider, looking at him in a new light.

“What should we name him, boys?”

Zach and Max stared at each other for a minute, and then Zach piped up: “Jimmy!”

So, after that, we started calling him Jimmy the Spider. He had webs set up in every corner of the bathroom ceiling and the game every time we went to the bathroom was to look around and try to find Jimmy to say hi. Jimmy’s been here for a while – I’ve lost track. In fact, Jimmy’s been here so long now we’ve made up a song:

He’s Jimmy the Spider
The Wonderful, Wonderful Spider
He sits
He stares
He walks around
Sometimes, he eats a fly
He’s Jimmy the Spider

Jimmy’s awesome. I don’t have to feed him, I don’t have to walk him, I don’t need to microchip him and if, perchance, tragedy were to strike and someone were to smash him, I could easily find a replacement.

Friday night, the way kids do, Max pulled on my guilt cord. After a bedtime nappy change he looked for Jimmy. I zipped up Max’s pajamas, picked him up and told him to say good night to Jimmy.

So he did: “Good night Jimmy. I love you.”

How bad a mommy am I, pretending a household pest is really a household pet? A wave of shame washed over me as I realized, these guys need a real pet. Not one who’s going to die or be eaten in three weeks.

Hmmmm… a dog…

Anyway, the following morning, we noticed there was a second spider in the bathroom. I thought: oh dear, this is getting out of hand. It’s an invasion: I better get rid of these spiders.

Zach looked up and said, “Hey! Another spider!” He Thought for a moment, “We’ll name him Oscar! Now we have TWO pets! We don’t need a dog at ALL!”

On second thought, they can stay.

Lory Manrique-Hyland is a freelance writer and stay-at-home Mom. She has a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU and an MA in Creative Writing from City College. She’s also a certified adult educator. Lory currently writes on parenting for a national newspaper and teaches fiction at the Munster Literature Centre. Her first novel, Revolutions, was published by the Lilliput Press. She’s working on her second novel. Read more at The Mom Blogs.

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