Yesterday morning was gorgeous. The picture of autumn--cool, crisp, clean. It was the answer to the question "Why is fall my favorite season?"
Yesterday also happened to answer the question "Is my son deathly afraid of spiders?"
We went on "an Explore"--over the river, through the woods, and up a hill. It was fun, invigorating...and stumble-licious. I think the kid fell down, oh, I'd say about every 45 seconds or so.
I don't know if it was the undergrowth, or his natural 5-year-old clumsiness, or the "cute" google-eyed rubber boots he selected (with my wife's enthusiastic encouragement, of course. Note to"cute"-lovers everywhere: on an Explore, "cute" don't cut it), but the little guy was down every time I turned around.
And, naturally, one such fall brought him face-to-face with a spider. I mean, I think it was a spider. He said it was a spider. But watching the way he panicked, seeing the sheer terror that gripped him and hearing the heart-stopping shriek of fear, my first guess was that he had stumbled upon the Gateway to Hell and had caught an agonizing glimpse of the Prince of Darkness leading the damned in an evil version of, say, Mother May I or 7-Up (which I imagine are pretty much exactly the same as the regular versions).
But, no. It was a spider, he said. A "woods" spider, no less, and as we all know, the "woods" spider is the most vicious, vile creature to ever walk the planet. Or, at least, to ever sit on a leaf and wait for my son's face to show up.
So afraid was he that he couldn't even stand up. He began scrambling sideways along the hill, unable to get his feet under him, screaming and crying and freaking out. Freaking me out, too, if you want the truth. So, about to panic a bit myself (or laugh--I was torn), I grabbed a handful of the back of his coat, hoisted him up into my arms and hugged him close, and while he slowly--very slowly--calmed down, I wondered if arachnophobia is genetic. My sister has it...and frankly I don't much care for the eight-legged freaks either.
So, long story short, instead of taking advantage of the event's character-building potential, I carried my son all the way back down the hill. But, rest assured, I made him earn his ride.
I put him on Spider Watch.