I have come to the conclusion that I am not particularly brave. Especially when it comes to things with eight furry legs and beady eyes that stare back at you. Things like tarantulas.

Saturday afternoon found us in Exposition Park at the annual Bug Fair at the Natural History Museum. After a nanosecond-long attempt at holding a tarantula, which ended with me instantly saying,"Ok, you can take it off my hand, NOW!" I've decided I like bugs best when they're outside, not when they're crawling up my arm.

Fortunately, that esteemed attribute of bravery seems to be manifesting itself quite healthily in my eldest son. I'm now renaming him "Master Tarantula Holder of Los Angeles".

It was great to see my son getting to talk with the scientists who research all the arachnids and bugs out there. He met the professors and got to talk to the college students about why they got into studying bugs in the first place.

If you're worried it was all high-brow intellectualism, never fear.

At one table, manned by a guy I'd say was in his late fifties, my son held his second tarantula. Then, when he was finished holding the spider, he said, "Thank you for letting me hold your spider. He was a really nice spider."

The guy paused for a moment...and I know that pause. It's the, "I can't believe kids can be so polite" pause. He leaned down and said, "Young man, let me shake your hand."

My son extended his hand and they shook hands.

The man continued. "You like the Spiderman movies?"

My son nodded, "Yes".

"Then you can tell all your friends that you just met the man who did the spiders for the Spiderman movies."

After that experience, I think my son may be altering his dreams of becoming a pediatrician and may now be gunning for bug-handler instead. He held five tarantulas, three African millipedes, a stick bug, and a scorpion on Saturday.

He really had to work his way up to the scorpion. He asked all the bug scientists if a scorpion's dangerous. They all said yes, but you know the disclaimer, "If you provoke it!" I was not down for the scorpion holding. I mean, the stinger on that thing is huge! But he really wanted to do it. Afterwards, he said, "Do you want to try it, Mommy. It's not so bad."

Um, no. That's okay. I am not as brave as he is.

My son thinks he's invincible. He believes he can do anything. I don't want him to lose that bravery.


West said…
Sounds like a really worthwhile outing - certainly a memorable one.

Thanks for sharing it with us.
Liz Dwyer said…
It really was memorable. I'm glad I took the photos as proof because I still can't believe he held those bugs!
Jameil said…
that's so cool! my mom acted like that when i held a snake. i was about 7 or 8.
Liz Dwyer said…
I guess it's a mom affliction then! I've held snakes before...garter snakes! ;) The bug thing just seems to make me queasier than the snake thing.
Anonymous said…
My son would have absolutely loved a bug fair. He's very into all things science right now. I on the other hand am squirming in my seat just looking at the pictures lol :) Your little guy is very very brave indeed!
the last noel said…
Sure, bugs are cool in an environment like a museum. However, they're disgusting when they're crawling up your leg in the park. Hats off to you and your son.
Liz Dwyer said…
The funny thing is that I wasn't as scared of bugs when I was a kid. Well, I was always afraid of spiders, but ants and crickets were a-ok with me. I used to try to catch them. I wonder when all that changed and I morphed into, "Eek! There's a big bug!" I wonder if my son will go through the same change. If he does, at least he's got the scorpion-holding memories.

I know that's right. If I saw a tarantulas in my backyard, there'd be no way I'd be standing there taking pictures! I think Olinga still might try to pick it up though!
Anonymous said…

Okay that was just not fun to look at the bugs...but your son's cute so that helped ease the EEEEWWWW factor of the bugs...especially the big black one...and the hairy one...and we wont' talk about the one with claws clamps..whatever!!

I wonder how much bug wranglers make..because that was the first thing that popped into my mind half way through the post! Hmm its always a good backup plan!!!
Moby Dick said…
Where you afraid that your son might get stung or bitten?
Chas said…
He's braver than me for sure. People don't scare me one bit but spiders are an all together different matter. However, assuming people had 8 legs and huge fangs I might rethink my position.
Liz Dwyer said…
Hah-hah! I also wonder how much the bug handlers make, although I think it's clearly a job you get into because you love it, not for money. I suppose if you live out here in Hollywood, the living has got to be fairly decent due to the film industry.

What an apt blogger name! Yes, I was quite worried that he might get stung or bitten. The millipede is gross looking but harmless. The scientists only let folks hold the low-venom tarantulas, so it would be similar to a bee-sting. The scorpion, also one of the less dangerous ones, even though it's completely ugly. That would be like two wasp stings.

Ah, you have bounced to wordpress! Congrats on the new blogging digs. Seriously, someone needs to hire you! And, I saw someone with fangs at Amoeba the other day. Leave it to Olinga to bust out, "Look! It's Dracula!"
Jon said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said…
We are boys, boys are invincible. We will always be invincible!
Squirmy Popple said…
I used to play with bugs when I was a kid but wouldn't touch them now - I wonder when bugs stopped being cool and started being gross.
Anonymous said…
Katie...when boys stopped being gross, and you wanted to touch THEM!

Liz...that Olinga is a cutie, cutie.

One question...was that high-brow intellectualism, or high-brown? I like it the way I read it, brown, but am unfamiliar with the term. Is it yours?

('Brown' places us squarely at the core of intellectual pursuits, attaches the 'normalcy' of such pursuits, etc. All extremely important.)
Great photos of a very handsome as well as brave young man.

I'm surprised that they allow children to hold scorpions. How do you know you're not provoking them, though?

It's a good thing we have kids to expose us to so many life-enlarging activities like Bug Shows.
Liz Dwyer said…
I don't know why your comment makes me laugh out loud, but it does! I know my sons think this way, which is why I pay extra for what my job calls "premium" health insurance!

I keep trying to figure that as well. I've always been afraid of spiders but I know I caught ants and roly-poly bugs when I was little.

Hah hah! Your response to Katie is probably right on! :) And, I rather like high-brown instead of high-brow! A total typo, but maybe it was some sort of freudian slip on my part.

I've decided I'm going to print the photos and hang them up in his room to remind him of how brave he was. I was also really surprised that they let the kids hold the scorpions. Apparently scorpions only attack if you are being threatening (poking, prodding, trying to step on them) But if you just sit there, they supposedly won't sting. Toward the end of the day, the scientists kept talking about how the bugs were getting tired. He held the scorpion last, right before the fair closed, so I was worried the scorpion would be cranky and sting. Thank goodness it didn't!

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