My daughter loves butterflies and tarantulas.

As I was driving my four year-old daughter to preschool, she revealed that her two favorite insects are butterflies and tarantulas.

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I know.

She explained that she loves butterflies because they are beautiful, and she loves tarantulas because “they’re the only bug that makes a good pet, too.”

We don’t own a tarantula, nor will we ever own a tarantula, but she has seen so many of them at the museums and zoos that she’s grown accustomed to their creepiness and thinks of them more like a dog or a cat than the terrifying subject of a 1955 monster movie.


The girl thinks refuses to eat chicken and hamburger because she says it’s disgusting, but she loves tarantulas.

As a teacher, my inclination was to use this as a teachable moment to introduce the word dichotomy to her. I tried to explain how her affection for butterflies and tarantulas represented represented a dichotomy in terms of her insect choices.

One is light, winged and colorful. The other is large, dark and hairy.

She was quiet for a moment and then said, “Dad, can we just listen to some music now?”

After 15 years of teaching, I’ve learned that not every teachable moment is a teachable moment.