A Spider Story – On Keeping a Diary for Your Child

Back in 1976 I decided that a unique gift for my daughter’s first birthday would be a journal in which I would write down the happenings, the new experiences and the milestones of each day.   I petered out before I reached the goal of her third birthday.   We still have these two diaries and there are many treasured stories in them.  It is hard to say whether she will enjoy them as much as I have.

To the people who say “I couldn’t do that, I’m not a writer,”  I would reply: “You’re not a photographer either and yet you fill the baby books with photos.”

Here is a passage I will share with  you.  My daughter was two and a half:

“I was changing M’s diaper at bedtime when she looked up at the ceiling and noticed a spider walking about.  She was immediately worried that the spider would come down on top of her.  I laughed at this and said that it would not be coming down on her.  Seconds later, as M. jumped up in great fear and clutched me, (more fear than she has ever exhibited), I saw the spider descending gracefully on a silken string just inches from our heads.  We moved and I did the best I could under the circumstances to convince her the spider would not hurt her.  We watched the spider go all the way back up again and come down.  She was starting to overcome her fear with amusement and curiosity but I thought it would save some trouble if I just killed the spider.  (I have never liked spiders myself–I am a beekeeper who worries about being bitten by a spider!)  So, when she wasn’t so intense on the spider, I squashed it.  This caused her to wail in grief, and shout at me, with big crocodile tears in her eyes:  ‘You messed him up!!!’  I had to hold and  rock her beyond this new crisis.  It was quite a learning experience.”

A few footnotes here:  This illustrates the unexpected challenges and learning experiences of being a parent.  The entire story never ceases to intrigue me.  How wrong we can be sometimes, when we think we are doing right.

This was also the point of origin of one of those family expressions or insider jokes.   For years we used “you messed him up,” in our familial humor.

And a happy ending for the spiders of the world:  As a child I had a spider phobia.  Illogically, as an adult I have had no trouble putting my bare hands into a hive of 60,000 honeybees, most of which have a stinger they will use if you upset them.   I have finally overcome my huge fear of spiders, having lived several years in my basement bedroom, a spider mecca which no one  wanted to rent.   I still don’t like spiders…but now they get to live at least half the time, if I can transport them to the great outdoors.

I would recommend all parents  jot down some of their children’s  stories in a special book for them.  It will have more meaning than a photo.  Or you could combine a photo with a story.  When you are gone who will be there to tell the stories?


One Response to “A Spider Story – On Keeping a Diary for Your Child”

  1. Barbara McDowell Whitt Says:

    What a touching story about your daughter, the spider that did come down toward her, and her outburst, “You messed him up.”

    Thanks for the memory jogger, Cynthia. I, too, kept journals about our two daughters who were born a year and a half apart. In one section I made notes about their language development. Once when they were quite young they got into an argument about a big cookie that had broken into two pieces, one large and one small. Of course our older daughter, Allison, wanted the larger piece, but I insisted that since it had been Suzanne’s cookie to start with, she should have the larger piece. Soon enough peace came. They both went their separate ways. Then Allison returned to say, “After all that, Suzanne left her piece on the table.”


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