Don’t Put a Rubber Spider on Your Mom in Church

This dumb kid did

Jenny Calvert
4 min readJan 28, 2024
Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

My Dad was a pastor at a little country church. It was his first church to employ him for this position. Employing is a stretch of the imagination. He was probably paid $25 weekly to preach on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, not to mention visitation, funerals, and weddings.

Needless to say, he had to keep his job at the Ford plant in St. Louis to support his family.

I never really understood why we moved to the little town of Union to be nearer the church when his daily job was around 53 miles away. That meant he had to get up around 4:00 five days a week to catch a ride in a carpool. Then, on Wednesday, after a long day of manual labor at the plant, he would come home for a quick dinner and then drive another 30 miles to get to the little country church. At the day’s end, he would fall into bed to be up at 4 a.m. the next morning.

Dad worked hard in those days, but I was a little kid. I didn’t realize his sacrifice and his fortitude.

I preface my story to give you a sense of the gravity of our actions as preacher kids, better known as P.K.s. It was a small country church where Dad was under the watchful eye of the deacons. With six kids and a mom, we took up a whole pew. Because of that, we sat in the back row. Dad, of course, was up in the pulpit.

I was a clueless ten-year-old who didn’t think of the consequences of my actions.

I remember the time I had my little brother, Johnny, put a wire rod up in a light socket. I thought I saw a bug in it. Thankfully, he was fine, but the wire froze up there with sparks and snapping sounds. Johnny and I looked at each other with wide eyes before it fell to the floor. It was a monumental lesson in the warning of anything electrical.

There was another time I had my little brother walk on a sheet of ice to see if it was solid. It wasn’t. Luckily, it was only a foot of water, but when I brought him home, he was soaking wet and shivering. I got into trouble for that one. My lesson this time was to only step out on ice once your parents tell you it is safe.

Yes, I was stupid, or at least partially because I was smart enough not to do it myself. I’m surprised that I didn’t kill my little brother.

Sorry, Johnny!

Well, one time when we were in church, I thought it might be fun to put a life-sized rubber tarantula in my mother’s lap. Never mind the fact that Mom had been bit by one as a child and had to go to the doctor to get it lanced. She had the scar to prove it.

I placed the spider in her lap, tapped her on the arm quietly because we were in church, and pointed to her lap. What happened after that was anything but quiet. She jumped up like a frantic Jack-in-the-box, minus the painted smile, shrieked loudly, and swatted it off her lap. All of this happened in a millisecond, but to me, it was slow motion and on a loop recording.

I looked up, horrified that all eyes in the church were on the back row. Yes, we were now the evil preacher kids everyone talks about. Ugh!

I knew I was in for it when we got home because I was too dumb to learn a lesson already taught by Dad: Never, ever make me look bad in front of a deacon. It took too much thought process to understand that Dad was under the deacon’s scrutiny every time he was in the pulpit.

I cried silent crocodile tears.

Eventually, Dad was booted out of that church. One deacon in particular complained that our family sat on the back row. I imagine it would be worse on Dad if we sat in the front row.

Dad stayed for many years at the next church he ministered at. I often wonder if it was because all of us kids were grown and not a part of that church.

Two things amazed me the day I put a rubber spider on Mom:

  1. When Mom jumped up and screamed, Dad didn’t miss a beat. He kept on preaching.
  2. When I got home, I didn’t get in trouble. No one ever said a word, which puzzles me to this day.

But I also learned two lessons that day:

  1. My motto is: sit where you want in church. I still prefer the back row.
  2. Never put a spider on your mom in the middle of a church service, and if the temptation is too great, it’s best to leave that rubber creature at home.



Jenny Calvert

The Lord is good to me and has helped me. I want to share what He can do for others as He has done for me and to see the light that is there inside them.