When you're in the midst of raising children, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're having a positive impact, especially if you're a part-time stepparent. And when you're a longtime bug lover like me, you may hope to pass along such seemingly peculiar values to the children in your care.
So it was a pleasant surprise for me one afternoon when I turned on my cellphone to find a message from my then 16-year-old and coolly aloof younger stepson. In an excited voice more reminiscent of his elementary-school years, he urged me to hurry out front and look at the hedge by the porch because a spider had built a "really cool" trap-door web across a fallen leaf. Hoping the unseasonable rain hadn't washed it away, I rushed out to find it. And I was delighted to feel I'd made at least an itsy-bitsy difference in the lives of a boy and a spider.
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