This is the type of scream where you drop everything you are doing and just go.
A high-pitched, blood-curdling scream came bouncing down the halls of our home one day. This is the type of scream where you drop everything you are doing and just go. And you go so fast that your feet can't grip the hardwood and you just run in place for a moment. Papers go flying in the air, something gets knocked over. Pure panic.
As a parent, it's the type of scream that haunts you all of the time. "Oh, God, what happened?"
Those moments are so terrifying.
In my short time as a parent, I've learned that no matter how well you prepare, you can't keep your children safe from everything. But you can try.
I've also learned that the way that you react when you see a spider tells a lot about your personality.
My wife and I met in the kitchen, where my daughter continued screaming at the top of her lungs. Her little sister was screaming, too, but she was smiling while she was doing it. It seemed she was first on the scene, discovered all was safe and decided to join her sister for a fun, old scream.
"What happened?" we asked in unison.
"Ahhhhh!" she said.
Her eyes took on the shape of saucers and led us to the ceiling where a little, tan spider stood. It blinked at us.
"Ahhhhh!" she said.
"Settle down," I said. "It's just a spider. It's not bothering you, there's no reason to scream."
"It's all spidery and icky, and it's going to fall on my head," she said, bunching up her face as she thought about it.
The spider moved two inches.
"Ahhhh!" she said. Her sister, oblivious to the spider, joined her for no reason.
My wife, despite her own feelings about spiders, stayed calm and assured our daughter that all would be fine. We reminded her about how much bigger she was than the spider. And how, mostly likely, the spider was more scared of her than she was of it.
"And you shouldn't yell like that for a spider," I said. "You need to save that yell for times when you really need it, like when you are in trouble or hurt."
"I was in trouble," she said. "A big, gross spider was about to eat me."
"Maybe you can come up with a middle-of-the-road scream that is just for things like when you see spiders or when your sister steals a strawberry off your plate," I said.
She agreed quickly, never taking her eyes off the spider. I think she would have agreed to anything at that point.
I grabbed a tissue and advanced toward the spider. My 2-year-old stopped me, pulling at my pant leg.
"Look, there's a spider up there, daddy," she said.
"Thanks for the heads up," I said.
We gathered up our friend and flushed him out to sea. The world was OK again.
And the scream of all screams was put to rest. At least for a few hours, until her sister put her cold feet on her leg.
David Manley is a husband, father and newspaper editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow him on Twitter: @DaveManley.