Dear Jack: Your New Pet Spider At School

4 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Your New Pet Spider at School

Dear Jack,

When Mommy and I got married nearly 7 years ago, I quickly learned that one of my roles was to kill the spiders in our home.

Of course, I knew it’s not wise to kill every spider. After all, certain spiders like granddaddy longlegs are there to prey on the other spiders that may actually be harmful to people.

Dear Jack: Your New Pet Spider at School

So I had to teach Mommy that you definitely want to keep a few spiders in the corners of the house; like having a cat in the barn to catch the mice.

Therefore, it is not in my nature to kill a spider simply because it’s a spider. Unless it’s poisonous and/or potentially harmful to people, the worst I’ll do to a spider is move it outside.

Dear Jack: Your New Pet Spider at School

As my son, you are the same way. Your teacher at Rainbow Child Care Center, Ms. Aimee, sent me this note:

“Last week Jack found a very tiny spider. Instead of smashing it (like what a typical child would do) he wanted to save it from being stepped on. I helped him move the spider to a safe place by the fence where it could be free in the grass.

Jack then decided that our new spider friend needed a house! So he searched the playground for items he could use to build the house. He found rocks, mulch, and grass (so he could eat in the comfort of his home).

The next week he made sure to check the spider’s home every day, to see if it came back. We found a spider web today and came to the conclusion that he must have been playing on the play equipment!”

Your teacher also sent me some pictures of you at school from this past week, ranging from “Dr. Seuss Day” to St. Patrick’s Day.

Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve got some pictures of my own to share, so be on the look-out for that…



Dear Jack: Your New Pet Spider at School


Manspeak, Volume 2: Heroism

Subconsciously I view handymen and auto mechanics as super heroes. Because the only thing I can build is a Lego house and the only vehicle I can fix is a Lego car. While I’m not a “slow learner”, I don’t learn new skills quickly. It takes daily practice for at least several weeks before I master something new. So to see a man who gets daily exposure to these expected masculine events, I can’t help but have admiration.

Any laugh track infused sitcom that features a typical “dad figure” has had at least once episode where there is a need for home repair and the man of the house rises to the occasion (against the advice of others in the household, namely the wife). Of course, the man botches the job for the comedy highlight of the episode: On Who’s the Boss, Tony “fixed” the toilet upstairs but smashed a hole in the floor which he fell into, causing only his butt to be visible from the living room ceiling by his family below. On Perfect Strangers, Larry “fixed” the shower but it caused the shower head to shoot water across to the other side of the bathroom and blasted Balki in the face, who decides to just stand there with his mouth open and drink the water instead of move out of the way. And as for Home Improvement, “man hilariously attempts home repairs” was the theme of every entire episode.

The fact that under-qualified men continue to try to fix things when they don’t really know how to, is a universal issue. Why? Because it is a man’s job to fix things. It is literally the way men were wired. A woman says to a man, “Our garbage disposal isn’t working right. I think we should call someone to come fix it.” The man hears this: “You’re a man, capable of figuring out how to fix this, but instead, I’m going to call another man to get the job done because he’s more qualified than you”. Shrinkage follows at just the thought of another man walking in the door with his tools.

A man walks around with this hidden fear that he will not be successful in life. In all ways big and small. If he can’t successfully make the evidently simple home repair, he fears he may be seen as insufficient, incapable, and useless. When he longs to be the hero. And hiring someone else to do the job makes him feel unnecessary. May seem a little over the top, but being a man, I recognize the tendency of thinking in terms in worst case scenarios about this stuff.

This also explains the all too familiar (yet somehow not cliché because it’s so true) story of the man who won’t stop to ask for directions. It’s a man’s job to explore and find his own way if he’s lost. A major sense of accomplishment if he can do it. And just for the record, he’s not lost. He’s either taking the scenic route or the short cut (depending on how much time is delayed).

One of my proudest accomplishments regarding home improvement was when I turned down an aggressive salesman who knocked on the door one sunny Saturday morning. If I signed a year-long contract right then since his company was already in the neighborhood, his company would regularly spray my house for bugs for the low, low yearly fee of $545. He inspired me to immediately drive to Lowe’s and purchase a 5 gallon sprayer for $11. Needless to say, I now consider myself a professional bug killer.

Last week as I was getting ready for bed I heard my wife scream loudly from the stairs. My initial thought is that someone broke into the house. I ran over to the stairs to find the intruder to be a wolf spider. A very large scary spider that appeared quite afraid to end up lost and confused at the top of the stairs. I took on the form of the 1984 no nonsense straight-faced Bill Murray, racing downstairs to transform the vacuum cleaner into a proton pack with which I sucked up the monster with great force, feeling the vibration of the thump as it was crushed to death by my weapon. I was a hero. An ego trip shortly followed.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: