Master Muffet

“Drinks stink! I wan water.” I am so pleased that my youngest child is able to demonstrate his new ability to express his displeasure in words, rather than having a hideous meltdown on the floor. The other five children at the table cover their ears and lean ever so slightly backwards in their chairs, the wave formation of ‘GOALLLLLL’ when you’re not attending a football match. This is the new goal, triple play dates on Friday afternoons. Lets work those social skills!

The new victims are fellow class mates but infinitely more verbal than the majority in my household. Although I am more than happy to moan about our spots on the spectrum, other people have entirely different, and yet similar spots to deal with. His big brother covers for him, “he's beed even louder at home!” The pals examine him and appear to agree that this is true. He may be very loud at school, but that's nothing by comparison with the comparative freedom of home, where ear plugs are ever ready and freely available.

There is a mass exodus from the table due to inadequate snack provision. The girls depart upstairs to leave me with four little boys.
“What's your name again?” asks Master Muffet.
“Madeline.”
“Yeah right. So did you know?”
“Know what dear?”
“You house is infested with Brown Recluses.”
“?”
I have no clue to what he eludes. We're not particularly recluse and the 'brown' evades me completely. “Brown what dear?”
“Brown Recluses. They're everywhere.”
“Really? Show me.”
I follow him into the family room but he stops dead in his tracks. His body bars the way to whatever it is, whilst he regales me with certain pertinent facts which I appear to be in need of.
“Do you know?”
“Do I know what dear?”
“Brown Recluses can bite you in the jugular and then you will die.”
“Really. That's very interesting. I didn't know that. Can you show me what you want to show me?”
“Sure. Look. It's here, under the magnets, don't touch it though. He’ll bite you in the jugular and you’ll be dead in minutes.”
I lift the magnets to see a small, light brown spider. “Ah, so a Brown Recluse is a spider.”
“Yeah and they're killers. If they bite you on the jugular, which is here on your neck, then you will die. My auntie has them in her house too. My auntie has Black Widow Spiders too and they are even more deadly.”
He continues in this vein without pause for breath. My knowledge of spiders is limited, as I am currently still stuck on Pokemon, easing into Yu-gio. I back my way gently into the kitchen and the laptop so that I can check out Recluse Browns. Mr. Muffet is approximately three inches away from me and continues to talk. I am unable to detect whether he is breathing at the same time, but I assume that he must be, otherwise he would have keeled over long ago. Interestingly, he is very keen that my eyeballs and thus my attention, should be on his eye balls whilst he talks. He is a very small child but I find myself shrinking beneath his penetrating and unblinking gaze. Very soon I shall be backed into the tiniest corner, stuck in a display cabinet and secured in place with a pin through my abdomen, a very poor specimen.

I am unable to deflect him. I troll through my lexicon, to recall if or when your child ever starts to 'go off' on their favourite subject, it is permissible to set limits without necessarily damaging their psyche. At the same time, if this is a Brown Recluse and if it has the qualities that he describes, then I might need to abandon ship or at least take all the children off the premises.

The internet, the link to sanity, tells me that this is an urban myth, there are no Brown Recluse Spiders anywhere around here, or at least no colonies. The occasional one might turn up, traveling like a hitch hiker from another State, but they haven't taken up residence. As soon as Mr. Muffet sees the website on the screen, he covers his ears to tell me that it is all lies. This tips me off that someone else has tried the same tactic. So often logic and facts are so much more calming that general platitudes, but not in this instance.

Now Mr. Muffet is agitated and anxious and this is my fault. I have no idea if it's OCD but I do know unhappiness when I see it. It is a familiar well worn path and I know that I need to head him off at the path before something unpleasant occurs. I let the words fall from his mouth in an unending stream until the flow slows to a more tranquil pace. The eye contact has been missing for a few minutes, but now it returns.

I strike during the calm. “Tell you what, you can talk for another three minutes then it's going to be my turn to talk about what I like.” He barely misses a beat as I set the timer on the counter, “er ….whadaya like…ta talk about?”
I think. This is a child who is very nearly as disinterested in food as my own son. I would guess, without supporting evidence, that he is not a neophobe. My neophobe son eats 13 foods. If you eat more than 20 foods you are just a picky eater. I bet he eats 21 foods. I know that the 5 foods that he requested for snack time were unavailable. He had polished off all the purple and red Goldfish crackers, leaving the other colours untouched. No alternatives were
acceptable.
“I like to talk about ………brocolli.” He blinks a couple of times before a shiver courses through his body from hair follicle to toe nail. “I'm done!” He turns on he heel and leaves. Victory and defeat for both of us.

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