On Funnel Web Spiders, Small Boys and Dung Beetles*

>> Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My sons crack me up.  This is a Good Thing, because a year of solo parenting 4-5  days a week is beginning to get to me, and my sense of humour is starting to wear thin.

When possible, I eat dinner with my children so that we can discuss their day.  Today's hot topic was what could only ever be a winner in terms of hilarity; Dung Beetles.  It all started innocently enough; Boy #2 is doing a school project on insects and arachnids, and his chosen creature for closer study is the infinitely cute and cuddly funnel web spider.

To quote a fellow blogger in her hilarious post today (thanks, Jennifer); of course it is.

Spiders are not my preferred creepy crawly, you see.  It took me until I was a grown up (aka; a parent) to be able to steel myself to collect one, ever so carefully, into a pint glass using a piece of paper to hold my nemesis safely inside until I could deposit it safely out of doors, as far away from the house as possible.  Oh, I do it without screaming (nowadays) but only because I'm trying to model 'don't be silly, it's just a spider, nothing to be scared of, nothing to see here' behaviour for my sons.  Amazingly this approach has paid dividends because now not only are they convinced I don't mind spiders, but Boy #1 is so laissez-faire about them that he will do the spider collecting for me.  I call this successful parenting - and a Result, with a capital 'R'...

Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes, funnel web spiders.  Which, by the way, as a spider that can leap a few feet, is not one I will be collecting in a pint glass with a piece of A4 paper over the top any time soon.  Especially since I am now in possession of additional information from my younger son about both their habits and the colour a 'victim' (his words, not mine) turns if they are bitten and not given the antidote pdq.**

So.  The funnel web spider conversation was freaking me out, to be honest; evasive action was required.  For some reason we turned the conversation to beetles.  Well - I turned the conversation to beetles.  And then his older brother moved it onto dung beetles (he's 9 - why was I thinking he would do anything else?), and so help me, I went for it.  Because I knew my audience, and what 7 year old boy would not be distracted from his fearless pursuit of knowledge about spiders by talking about a beetle that - essentially - collects poo for a livelihood?

Boy #2 was initially unimpressed.  "What's a dung beetle, Mum?"

"Well, it's a small beetle.  It lives in Africa."  I could see my younger son's attention beginning to wander.  "Is it poisonous?"  "No, it's not poisonous."  "Can it jump?  Does it LEAP, out of woodpiles, at people and...other victims?"  "No, it doesn't leap or jump." I was losing him, I could tell.

But Boy #1 came to the rescue.  "But it collects dung, Boy #2.  DUNG!"

There was a blank look from his younger brother.  "Dung?  What's 'dung'?"

I bit the bullet.  "Poo.  It collects poo."

A moment of silence.  Then:  "Poo?  It collects POO? WHY?"

Boy #1 stepped in (since, frankly, I wasn't sure).  "To eat.  And to lay it's eggs in."

Another moment of silence, whilst Boy #2's eyebrows climbed up into his hairline.  Then; "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Ah, the old craptastic trail.  It never fails to entertain...

*  Well - all the SEO advice says to title your post descriptively...
**Blue, if you were wondering.  You're welcome.


Tattie Weasle 22 May 2013 at 14:57  

The old poo jokes etc always gets them! Craptatic!

Irene 22 May 2013 at 15:46  

Dung is such an inadequate word, isn't it?

nappy valley girl 22 May 2013 at 17:33  

Poo never fails to liven up a conversation with boys...they still find Pooh Bear incredibly amusing.

Dot 22 May 2013 at 22:06  

My husband remains very proud of the fact that, as a two-year-old briefly living in Botswana and caught short on a car-journey, some of his own poo was collected by a dung beetle.

Metropolitan Mum 22 May 2013 at 22:22  

Sometimes, I am more than happy to be a mother of two little girls... May I quote my 4-yo: "We don't say wee wee poo poo."

Jenography.net 23 May 2013 at 10:23  

I love kids' absolute astonishment when they hear of things like dung beetles. It's so funny, how could it be true?

Clare Taylor 24 May 2013 at 19:38  

TW, yes indeed - they never fail.

Irene - now that you mention it, yes!

NVG, we haven't read that for a while. Something tells me that the results would be rather different from previously if we did...

Dot, true greatness indeed!

MM, well of course you don't!

Jen, exactly!

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