Monday, November 17, 2008

Incy Wincy Redback Spider

Mark is scared of spiders. Mark is scared of lots of things. Truth be told, Mark is a great big scaredy-pants.

As a result, Rachel has put a lot of effort into preventing the children turning into mini scaredy-pants.

So, they have always been encouraged to pick up spiders and to view insects as nice, friendly, if slightly unattractive planet-sharers.

Except ants. Ants have been officially designated bad-insects and are the only living things the children are allowed to "hate" and stamp on at will. Indeed, last year, following a mass ant- massacre featuring a kettle of boiling water, Jody and Rachel had the following conversation...

JODY: "Mummy, I'm not sure I want to go to heaven."

RACHEL: "Okay, but don't tell granny."

JODY: "Huh?"

RACHEL: "Sorry, I mean, Why? Why don't you want to go to heaven?"

JODY: "Because it will be full of ants."

This wasn't long after the death of Jody's favourite fish. Following Freddy's demise, Jody had been very quiet all day. Rachel put it down to grief, perhaps exacerbated by the fact that human-Freddy - dead fish-Freddy's namesake - had been present at the time of death.

But at bed time Jody revealed the real reason for her pensiveness:

JODY: "Mummy, when I die, will you flush me down the toilet?"

RACHEL: "No. Definitely not."

JODY: "Why did you flush Freddy down the toilet?"

RACHEL: "Freddy is smaller and he likes water."

JODY: "So if I was smaller....?"

RACHEL: "No. No. I won't flush you down the toilet, no matter how small you get, or how much you like water."

JODY: "So, is fish heaven down the toilet?"

RACHEL: "Um, not exactly."

JODY: "You don't know, do you?"

RACHEL: "Er, no, not really."

JODY: "Granny will know. I'll ask granny in the morning. Thanks, mummy. Na night"

Anyway, back to the present day and spiders...

As a result of her ongoing hug-a-spider campaign, Rachel was a tad concerned by the letter that came home from the kids' school yesterday. Here are a few favourite extracts:

"Like any garden, play area or park in Dubai, we do occasionally find Redback spiders within the school grounds."

"Redback spiders are particularly prevalent at this time of year ..."

"It is not our intention to frighten the children... Spiders and scorpions are a part of life in Dubai, as much as camels and ‘unconventional’ driving."

"I seek to reassure you that the staff and in particular, our nurses are fully trained as to the action to take should an insect bite take place."

Unfortunately, parents aren't. So, while Mark lazed on the sofa, refusing to put his feet on the floor and gloating that he had been right all along, Rachel googled redback spiders.

RACHEL: "Hey, they're not all bad. These redback spiders eat ants."

MARK: "Yeah, but I haven't seen any ants in the house for a while."

RACHEL: "Says here that they have even been known to eat crickets." ... evil chuckle ... "Hey, Mark, if the ants have gone, and we haven't heard the cricket this evening...."

MARK: ...whimper...

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