Critters

My younger sister, Rachel, ran into into the house, terrified. “There's a big animal and a bigger animal.”

Envisioning snakes or rats, I rushed out of the house to investigate. I couldn't see anything that looked remotely menacing. “Where?”

Standing at a safe distance, partially hidden by my mother, she pointed at a small spider and an even smaller spider.

I cleared my throat, in an attempt to disguise my snort of laughter.

I, on the other hand, have never been afraid of small spiders, mice, or nonpoisonous snakes and scorpions. Growing up in Israel, I often nonchalantly wiped cockroach eggs out of wine glasses, and I didn't flinch at the huge cockroaches who flew in through open windows.

One morning, while I was in basic training in the Israeli army, I was standing in line for the showers. I was getting antsy, concerned I'd be late for inspection, when I noticed that one of the shower stalls was unoccupied. As I strode towards it, one of the girls warned me that there was a huge cockroach in there. I shrugged and entered the stall still wearing my boots.

He was standing in the middle of the stall facing me, his antennas twitching.  I didn't fancy a cockroach scuttling across my bare feet while washing myself--I stepped on it, to the chorus of shrieks and screams from the other girls. I then proceeded to undress and take my shower, making sure to avoid stepping barefoot on the remains.

My daughter, Sarah, personality-wise is a combination of Rachel and myself. Like Rachel, she is more careful how she presents herself than I am, comfortable in dresses and make-up as I never was. But unlike Rachel, when Sarah was little, she had no fear for insects. Longing for a pet, she proceeded to adopt an ant. She also used to play with earth worms until they became exhausted. However, I'm pretty sure she would not step on a large crunchy cockroach.

But everyone has their limits. Sarah is creeped out by squirrels. I'm fine with little spiders, large cockroaches, and squirrels, but  big hairy spiders give me the willies. And Rachel... I wonder if she's still afraid of spiders.