Thursday, July 8 2021

wiggly skin, the plan with spiders, and bathtime

page banner

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. I hope you are having an easier time waking up for the day than I am. And why shouldn't you? You don't have two hairy, distracting spiders living in your room and an exciting coding side project burning a hole in your pocket. I've burned the candle at both ends, and this morning I'm paying the price. But at least this end of the candle runs black with hot, life-giving coffee.

Sip. To most, this is just your average early July Thursday. To Rodney, it's his birthday. While I'm writing this, he is probably sitting upright in his bed with his bedroom lights on, too excited to go back to sleep but unsure what to do with himself.

He should be excited. Even though the real party is happening two weekends from today, we still have a special day planned for him. Marissa volunteered to wake up early to make him pancakes, then she's taking him to the zoo. For dinner, we're going to make his favorite cheesy chicken, but there may be a Portillo's audible as well if the birthday boy demands it.

And I'd just like to take a second to acknowledge how Rodney asked for cheesy chicken.

"I want chicken. With the... wiggly skin," said Rodney. Marissa and I squinted, watching Rodney bring his fingers together like he was puppeting an animated bowl of spaghetti.

"Chicken... with wiggly skin?" I asked. "What else do you want with it?"

"Um, just chicken," said Rodney, nodding. "Yeah. Just chicken with the wiggly skin." He made the "wiggly chicken" motion with his fingers again.

"I think that means cheesy chicken," I sighed.

Rodney has grown so old. I'm not ready to begin the next chapter of life where we argue with a grown up five year old about what constitutes wiggly chicken skin. I want to go back in time to when we used to let Rodney be the first to walk into Glass Nickel on his wobbly toddler legs, knowing he'd get a rush from the brief moment of independence.


I want to go back in time to when Rodney was just a 30 pound payload sitting comfortably in his little blue car stroller - back when it still had a steering wheel.


I want to go back to when Rodney used to wear socks on his hands to enhance the movie he was watching on repeat.


Heck, at this point I'd even go back to the era of diapers and bad buzz cuts, back when it used to take a whole hour just to fill his tiny blue backpack with a couple of toys for a trip.


But alas, today I'm the proud owner of a five year old. Happy birthday, Rodney. I'm not crying - you're crying.

In other news, a third darkling beetle emerged from its pupa. The remaining eight pupas on my shelf had me nervous, and I was second guessing myself about taking them out of the dark shoe box. But in the time it took me to take a shower yesterday, one of those pupas turned into a pale, exhausted beetle. Cain was flopped on his belly, legs too feeble to stand. I used a paint brush to flick him out of the cup, and he awkwardly tumbled into the nursery with Adam and Eve (or Steve).


Welcome to the world. When your brother comes around, don't kill him.

After setting up spiders, the Zophobas morio seems like such a simple animal. Wrestling with a pet whose frail life depends on research, practice, and daily maintenance gave me and Marissa a whole new level of common ground. All this week, I feel as if I'm doing a reenactment of Marissa's first week with a saltwater aquarium.

"I would touch something in the tank literally every time I walked by," said Marissa. "I was obsessed, and I just wanted them to be happy."

"It's almost like I'm learning to give them their space," I echoed. "I'm in the helicopter parent phase."

I ordered a third spider to fill third and final vacancy in my nursery. I went with the Brachypelma albopilosum, the classic curly hair tarantula. I'm getting the more established two year old juvenile as well as a bigger enclosure. After cuing up the purchase in the shopping cart, I took a quick walk down stairs to the art studio to make a formal request to the family treasurer.

"So the curly hairs are cheaper, only like forty bucks. But these enclosures I got are too small, I'm going to set this one up with the next size up," I said. Marissa set her paint brush down thoughtfully.

"What's... the plan here," she said, cracking a smile. "Don't get me wrong. I love these. But it's like... all the sudden we had two of them." We broke into a chuckle. "What's the plan?" she repeated emphatically.

I leaned in close. "Spiders. The plan is spiders."

It seems we had a miscommunication about how many spiders we'd be bringing into our life. I had made up my mind on three of them, but I could appreciate that from Marissa's perspective, she said yes to a spider and then they started showing up at our house. As far as she knows, I could have been leveraging the confusion to amass a room full of spiders.

We gave both kids and all three dogs a bath yesterday. As a final non sequitur treat for reaching the end of this entry, here's a slow motion video of the dogs doing their ritual post-bath tear through our upstairs hallway.

We turn a blind eye to the momentary chaos because we all know that once it subsides, all three dogs become pitifully cold and consequently great snugglers for the night.


Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Thursday, and do wish Rodney a happy birthday if you see him. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a grocery list for wiggly chicken skin dinner.