Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)
TITLE: Mom and Daddy-Long-Legs
By John Hunt
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From the moment I began to crawl, I ventured out into the vast frontier of our backyard. A whole ‘nuther world existed outside the four walls of our house, and I determined myself to explore each and every crevice of it. Of course, dangers overshadowed such expeditions. Thistles, bumble bees, and girls with cooties lurked around every corner, and that’s not to mention the dreaded garter snake (my best friend and I were famous snake hunters in our day). For me, however, the greatest danger lay more in my return trip indoors than anything I faced outside, at least on this particular occasion it did.
Everybody knows daddy-long-legs don’t have mouths - according to my friends, they don’t, anyway. I mustered the courage to pick one up one day, and sure enough, it didn’t bite me; although as it dangled precariously from my pinched fingers by one leg, its mouth could scarcely reach my hand. I decided, in the wisdom only a five-year-old could possess, that I should show this anomaly of nature to my mother.
Mom lived a life of continual interruption in my formative years. Whenever she tried to read a book, I would constantly call, “Mom!” As she watched her favorite soap opera, she would hear, “Mom…Mom...Mom;” and whenever she tried to get anything done around the house, the call would invariably come, “Mommmmm.” Oddly enough, she seemed to tune me out after a while. So it happened, that fateful day, as I waited in the kitchen with the daddy-long-leg dangling from my fingers, that I called for her while she stood (as she often did) washing dishes. Evidently, she didn’t hear me the first time, so I called again. This went on for several moments before she finally turned around to see what urgent matter demanded her attention.
At this propitious moment, my mother calmly sat me down to explain why I should never bring critters – particularly spiders – into the house. Of course, she did this three hours after emitting a blood-curdling scream that still hangs somewhere over the cornfields of Indiana. Hence, began my phobia of spiders…and washing dishes, I might add. Alarmed, I dropped the spider and ran one way, while my mother ran the other way, and the daddy-long-leg – grateful for his liberation from this precocious five-year-old – scurried off, never to be seen again.
I drew a picture of a daddy-long-leg the next day – an anatomically-correct rendering, illustrating the absence of a mouth. Somehow, I don’t think I convinced my mother. Regardless, I’ve learned a few things since that summer long ago. First, I learned that true daddy-long-legs aren’t spiders at all; they’re Opiliones, or harvestmen, whatever that is. These harvestmen do not produce silk, have no fangs, and exist only to terrorize unsuspecting moms (it turns out my friends were right, after all). Of course, one should not confuse these with daddy-long-leg spiders, or cellar spiders, which, I learned, do have mouths and will bite (so, if you’re keeping score, the rule is: don’t pick up anything with more than four legs).
More importantly, I leaned God made mothers to love, nurture, and protect little boys from benign creatures, or poisons creatures, or benign creatures that look like poisonous creature that actually might be poisonous creatures whose name’s sakes are that of the creatures we thought were poisonous to begin with (on your score cards, that’s harvestmen on first, cellar spiders on second, and daddy-long-legs on third). Oh, and He must have given mothers an extra dose of patience in the process.
My mother survived raising me all those years, and eventually, I ventured out into the vast, open frontiers of the world. Along the way, I endured many other encounters with harvestmen, earthworms, real spiders, and big sisters (which, by far are the scariest of all). Somehow, through it all, my mother also managed to train me up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
So, if you ever find a daddy-long-leg in your back yard, please don’t take it inside the kitchen of your house. It most likely would serve only to scare the wits out of your mother, colonize a nest within your home, and traumatize you from ever doing dishes again.
Unless, of course, that’s your whole intent.
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