We have a friend who has made his home outside the front door of our house.

He has eight legs. He looks like a tiny crab. And he is one of the best artists I have ever met.

My friend, Dusty — a spiny orb-weaver spider — and I first met one morning when I walked through his web when leaving our house for an outing with our three boys.

Of course, I let out a little scream and brushed my hair, face and neck. And then I finished my song and dance with a couple of “Eewws.”

And while my skin felt creepy crawly for a few minutes, I quickly got over the fact that I had just walked face-first into a very large spider web.

Our meet and greet had been a quick one. And I figured this would be our first and last meeting. After all, most spider webs that I had broken in the past did not reappear. And if they did, they were not rebuilt in the exact same place.

The spiders of the past seemed to have gotten the picture and moved onto a new building place.

But not Dusty.

Only an hour later — maybe less than an hour later — the children and I returned to the house.

What did I see in front of the door? Another web. One that was even more beautiful and intricate than the last one.

And there — in the middle of it — was Dusty.

With a quick “Ewww,” I knocked down the web – saving the day for the three boys standing behind me who would have surely walked through the web without my interference.

We had to go outside again – a couple hours later. And much to my surprise, the web was back. How could this be?

It was time for this spider to find a new home. Why wasn’t this spiny-orb weaver getting the picture?

Hours went by. Web was knocked down. Web was rebuilt.

Weeks went by. Web was knocked down. Rain showers washed it away.

Web was rebuilt.

Months went by. Web was knocked down. Rain showers washed it away. Wind blew it away. But the web was rebuilt.

Never before had Chumbawamba’s 1997 “I Get Knocked Down” lyrics resonated more clearly and loudly in my head: “I get knocked down. But I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.”

It has now been a little over a month and my friend is still there.
But now we wake up in the morning and cannot wait to see the artwork he has created. His designs are some of the most beautiful designs I have ever seen. We even tell little Dusty, “Good morning.”

When we can, we try to avoid knocking down his web and duck underneath it.

But when we can’t avoid it, we very carefully pinch one strand to bring it down and then say, “Sorry, Dusty.”

I know. I know.

So, we are talking to a spider. Pretty weird, huh?

A lot of weird things happen to you when you are the mother of three young boys and sleep-deprived.

But there is something that I really appreciate about this little guy.
He has taught my boys a life lesson. Or he has at least given me material to teach my boys a life lesson – a lesson about determination.

Each day, Dusty’s web is knocked down, and each time the little guy rebuilds his web, better than the last.

I have noticed it. But most importantly, my boys have noticed it. And they have commented on the fact that they can’t believe that Dusty keeps starting over and trying again.

It’s a concept they don’t quite understand. Why would he keep trying, again and again, after having been defeated so many times?

They have such respect for the “spiny little dude.”

Let’s face it – defeat or rejection is not something that a child or an adult enjoys. But if we can think about Dusty and the determination that he has, then we can remind ourselves and our children that defeat makes us stronger.

Even the naysayers make us stronger. We can use their words and that feeling of failure that they impose upon us to fuel the fire to make us try even harder.

We can stand proud and learn from our mistakes. Most importantly, we can become stronger and better at what we do.

If Dusty, the spider, understands how to get knocked down and get up again, we AND our children can understand the importance of rebuilding our own webs as well.