WHAM! My husband slammed a book down on the tile floor, smashing the spider that he and my son had been studying.
“Da-ad,” my son whined, “I wasn’t done looking at him!” He set his jaw and crossed his arms, getting into that huffed up position he assumes when things don’t go his way.
“Oh, sorry, Buddy,” my husband stammered. “I thought you said you were done. You can still look at him.” I could tell he was trying to figure out how to keep this from escalating. Suddenly he got a twinkle in his eye. Winking at me, he said to my son, “Go get a paper plate.”
My son looked confused, but fetched the plate as directed. My husband scooped the spider up and set the plate on the table. “Want to eat him?” he asked my son.
“EWWW!” my son squealed, forgetting he was upset.
“First we need to put some salt and pepper on him,” my husband continued. He handed the shakers to my son, who was now totally engrossed in this new project. Buddy Boy shook salt and pepper over the smashed exoskeleton, laughing.
“How about some soy sauce?” my son suggested.
“In a little while, we’ve got to let him dry out with the salt and pepper first.”
“Are we really going to eat it?”
“Yeah,” my husband said enthusiastically.
“You know, I’ve eaten grasshoppers before,” I chimed in. My son looked skeptical. “Once I ate a chocolate covered grasshopper to get a free ice cream, and another time I ate spicy grasshoppers at a Oaxacan Restaurant.”
I looked at the clock, 9:50. “Come’on, we’ve got to go. We’re going to be late for church. You can eat the spider for lunch when we get home.”
* * *
An hour and a half later we were on our way home, and as usual I asked what everyone wanted for lunch. “I feel like a grilled cheese sandwich, who else wants one?” I asked.
“We’re going to eat the spider,” my husband reminded me.
“Dad, you can eat the spider,” my son piped up. “I might die if I eat it.” I glanced at him in the rearview mirror. He had a genuinely worried look on his face as he contemplated eating the spider. I wondered if it was time to tell him we were just kidding around.
My husband wasn’t quite done with the joke yet, though. “Oh, no, we’re going to share it. Spiders have eight legs, so you can eat four and I can have four. Or should we share with Mommy, too?”
“But what if we die?” Buddy Boy asked earnestly. I could tell he was getting pretty nervous, and so could my husband.
“I’m just joking,” he said, smiling at my son in the rearview mirror. “We’re not going to eat the spider, I was just playing with you.”
A look of relief washed across my son’s face. Knowing he didn’t have to eat the spider brought him back into the excitement from earlier in the morning. “Can I put butter on him?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said, “but use a plastic knife.”
Upon arriving home, we piled out of the car and up the stairs to the kitchen. I started making grilled cheese sandwiches while my son buttered the spider still on the paper plate at the table. “Are you sure you don’t want to eat it?” I asked. “I can put him in your grilled cheese sandwich.”
“Wait, are you still joking?” Buddy Boy asked uncertainly.
I laughed. “Yes, I’m joking,” I said, setting his sandwich down on the table in front of him. “But you know what, that would make a great story!” I continued, the writing coach in me coming out. “You should write a story about how to cook a spider at preschool tomorrow!”
And that’s just what he did. When we went to pick him up, his teacher told us about the great story he wrote, and how much the whole class loved it when she read it at circle time. That’s my boy!