Head for the hills

During a recent phone conversation, Megan mentioned that Bubby had woke up in the middle of the night, crying "Ow! Ow!" Her first thought: He'd been bit by a tarantula.

A tarantula?

Yep, Megan didn't think, as I would have, that Bubby had gotten his foot caught between the rails of the bed or that the pain of a recent round of teething awoke him. No, she thought a tarantula had taken a bite out of her baby.

Seems the day before, Megan had walked into the bathroom just in time to see a baby tarantula scurry across the counter. Being the brave mama she is ... okay, knowing there's no way in hell Preston would have gotten in there in time to kill the darn thing before it disappeared into the woodwork ... Megan squished and squashed it.

Then she worried non-stop that there were more where that one came from.

Turns out that when she raced to Bubby's room to rescue him from the scary spider, Bubby stood in his crib, laughed and held his arms out. He was just kidding ... and pressing Mommy's buttons in hopes of getting up to play at 3 a.m. (I've told you he's a smart kid, haven't I?)

Now, Megan and Preston live in a nice house, in a nice part of town. But it's in the freakin' desert. So these things happen. In the same conversation, Megan mentioned Preston's recent near run-in with a rattlesnake. He and Roxie, the family dog, had been hiking when Roxie noticed something slithering and rattling up ahead. Her warnings to Preston saved the day, and he was fortunate to come away with nothing more than a snake story.

A scary snake story, if you ask me, but it's nothing compared to the scorpion stories Megan shares with me on a pretty regular basis. When she first moved to the desert with Preston, she told me about the common practice of sweeping one's bed with a black light before climbing into it to ensure no scorpions were hiding out in the covers, ready to zap the sleeper in the night. She didn't buy a black light -- which I sure would have appreciated on my first few visits to the newlyweds' new home.

Megan, a teacher, also told me about scorpion incidents on the playground ... and the rising tally of kiddos stung by scorpions as they played.

The kicker, though, came when Megan was pregnant. As is the case with all OB/GYN doctors, Megan's doctor gave her reams of information on health precautions for herself and her baby. But in the pile of papers she was given to read was one precaution I'd never before heard of -- and as a long-time mom and the former editor of a parenting magazine, I've heard a lot of babycare precautions. The tip of which I write, which dropped my jaw upon hearing, was to place the legs of the baby's crib in glass jars, one for each leg of the crib (or bassinette). No, it's not some nifty recycling tip; it's the way to prevent scorpions -- SCORPIONS! -- from climbing into the baby's bed at night and stinging him. Oh, it also mentioned to keep the crib moved out from the wall a bit, as the scorpions climb walls. And to keep blankets from dangling through the rails and touching the floor as the pesky critters like to climb up the blankets, too.

Surprisingly, such advice didn't send Megan packing. I'm continually amazed at the way she has adjusted to such lunacy. She was born and bred in the mountains. We don't have such things in the mountains. Yeah, we do have rattlesnakes, but run-ins with them are few and far between because it's too darn cold for them to be out and about on a regular basis. We also have the Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick ... but I've never heard of anyone -- not even the most active and outdoorsy person I know -- actually succumbing to the dreaded fever the tick supposedly propagates. The worst we have is Brown Recluse spiders, but I'm pretty sure those are everywhere and they require minimal precautions, minimal awareness. No jar under the crib legs or blacklight scans of the bedding to keep one safe.

Although I must be honest here and admit that we did have one critter infestation of biblical proportions last year. Bugs covered everything in parts of the state: fields and flowers, mailboxes, street lamps and (most appealing to the news cameras for some reason) the rows and rows of vehicles at the auto dealerships. But the bugs were, get this, lady bugs ... which made for a rather colorful and whimisical annoyance.

The cry of "head for the hills" from characters in books and movies, characters seeking safety, happens for a reason: It's safe in the hills. And I firmly believe -- and this isn't just the grandma in me talking -- that it's high time for Megan and Preston to grab their baby and head for the hills ... the hills of Colorado ... specifically the hills at the base of Pikes Peak ... the hills where grandma lives.

Again, the hills are safe. We don't have to worry about spiders and snakes and scorpions. And if Bubby lived here, I promise I'd protect him from any of the scary things that might make an uncharacteristic appearance. I'd throw myself in the line of fire of each and every wild critter who might dare to nibble on Bubby's sweet skin.

No matter how old or feeble I may get, I'd make good on that promise. I'd keep my grandbaby safe. I am grandma, hear me roar.

It's a pretty easy promise to keep when the greatest danger we may encounter is a ladybug or two (hundred).

Today's question:

What creepy critter are you most afraid of?

My answer: I'd have to say snakes. I can squish a spider fairly quickly, but snakes don't squish quite as easily.