Things That Go Jump in the Night

Spirit Halloween, jumping spiderI’ve written before about how my kids are obsessed with Halloween. Their favorite thing at the Halloween store last year was a spider that jumped out at you when you stepped on a floor pad. It also made this hideous shrieking sound, and its eyes glowed a chilling, sinister red.

The kids were simultaneously fascinated and terrified by it. When we went to the mall, they couldn’t wait to see it, but as soon as we got to the store, they would hide from it and make me promise not to step on the pad.

Of course, even though they couldn’t bear to be near this evil toy, they kept begging us to buy one for our home. Good thing it cost $80, because Daddy knows better than to spend that kind of cash on a cheap piece of plastic that horrifies his children.

If I could get it for $30, though…

So I went online a few days after Halloween looking for a clearance sale. I found a smaller, less scary model at a more attractive price point and decided to make it a Christmas present. That way, if it freaked anyone out, Santa could take the heat.

Bad move, Superdad.

This time there was no fascination, only terror. The kids refused to play with the tabletop jumping spider or even turn it on. It got tossed behind a mountain of other toys, where I assumed they just forgot about it.

… until a couple of weeks ago, when Bennett woke up in the middle of the night screaming. “It’s the jumping spider! He’s coming to get me!”

We told Bennett we were going to throw the spider away, but that only upset him more. I think he didn’t like the feeling that it would be… out there somewhere. He needed closure. I started thinking up a plan. Maybe we could wait for the garbage truck one day, then personally hand it over to the workers and watch them crush it in the back of the truck. Sure, and then my kid would be terrified of the garbage truck.

Drew suggested we lock the spider in our garage. At least then, Bennett would know where it was. Bennett liked that plan, but the nightmares continued.

Finally, I came up with a new idea. We could give the jumping spider away to a friend of ours, an older kid who wouldn’t be afraid of it. He would make sure the spider stayed away from Bennett, and if Bennett ever changed his mind and wanted to visit the spider, we could go to his house.

Jumping spider, Halloween, spider, Halloween toyWe set up the drop-off. Bennett and Sutton were both so excited to give the spider away. They fought over who got to carry it, then finally decided they would carry it together. I was afraid they might change their minds about handing it over, but when the time came, they gave it up and never looked back.

As we drove home, I was looking forward to a peaceful sleep with no nightmares. Then, Bennett called out from the back seat.

“Daddy?” he said.

“Yeah, pal?”

“For Halloween this year, can we get a jumping zombie?”

Spookytown, jumping zombie, Halloween

21 comments on “Things That Go Jump in the Night

  1. I hate when kids just don’t learn their lessons! Once bitten, twice shy? Pah, as if. Sometimes I think that a lot of things are not quite as serious/scarring for our kids as we are afraid they might be, Great story, Jerry.

    • Good point. I think sometimes they express their fears just to see how we react, and the worst thing we can do is justify them. Then again, you don’t want to downplay their fears and seem like you don’t take them seriously. It’s tricky. I try to say, “Well, I assure you the jumping spider isn’t real and it can’t hurt you, but I understand why you’re still afraid, so if it makes you feel better, we’ll give it away.”

      Ooh, and now I know your alias! πŸ™‚

      • Ah, that’s just my little monkey, Number 2. I ghostwrite a private blog on his behalf and forgot to log out before commenting. Oops πŸ™‚

  2. My kids were equally terrified by a dancing pumpkin… way less creepy than a jumping spider, even I wouldn’t have wanted one of those in the house!!
    BTW, you inspired a post (or rather part of one) and I’ve referenced one of your older posts, if you want to swing by and read it.

  3. Made me laugh and brings back memories – my hubby loves halloween and decorates to the extreme with scary stuff. For the first 6 years of my children’s lives, I had to take them out to trick or treat on halloween by leaving through the back door – they were too bloody scared to go out the front door where all the creepy spiders and skeleton were – lol.

    • That’s hilarious! We only decorate with kiddie stuff — black cats, pumpkins and the like. I have a feeling my kids will want to party at your house when they’re a little older, though. πŸ™‚

  4. Children are amazing. The notion of “we survived THAT THING now let’s look for an even more AWFUL THING,” is something that I adore and will never understand. From a fellow alum of the “Nice Going Dad” school of parenting, I wish you well in your next endeavor!”

    • Thanks. I wish I’d studied child psychology, because it really is fascinating. As much as scary stuff makes them uncomfortable, they kind of NEED it. I’m sure there was part of my kid who really missed that jumping spider after we gave it away.

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