“There’s a spider, dad,” said my daughter Skye as she was looking up at her bedroom ceiling during story time.

“Oh yes, and a big one,” I said, probably not too helpfully.

“I’ll remove it after I’ve finished the story”.

“No dad, how can you possibly expect me to concentrate when I can see it looking down at me?”

“It’s not looking at you,” I said amused.

“Yes it is, I can see its eyes.”

“You can see its eyes?”

“Dad, look, it’s moving, please get rid of it.”

“Ok then, I’ll go get a glass jar and a piece of paper,” I said.

So I went downstairs to get my spider catching equipment.

When I returned Skye was curled up in the corner of the room with a look of terror on her face, as the eight legged creature was beginning to make its way across the ceiling right above her.

Her wee brother Lewis wasn’t helping much.

“Cool, it is a really big one,” he said while trying to reach it by standing on the bed and stretching up his arm.

“Lewis if you make that spider fall on my bed, I will never forgive you. Daaaad!!!”

I heard the commotion and arrived back in the kids’ bedroom with the confidence of a ghostbuster, all kitted out and ready to remove the offending creature safely.

I stood on the bed and Skye’s fear was suddenly overridden by fascination and a desire to watch the process of capture.

“Don’t kill it dad, just take it away,” she said, now in a more sympathetic tone.

And so, with years of experience at spider removing, I stood on the bed, stretched my arms upwards and carefully placed the glass jar over the spider.

The kids watched as I deftly managed to capture the probably more terrified creature under the jar which I held tightly onto the ceiling.

It was at this moment that my constructed outward appearance of being unafraid of spiders began to slip.

You see, I’m actually afraid of them myself, but this annoys me; it seems so irrational.

They cannot harm us in this country and as I keep telling the kids, they are an essential and wonderful part of nature. But, sadly, spiders have not been gifted with good looks, at least from a human’s perspective.

When I was wee I unfortunately saw a picture in a nature book of a spider’s eyes close up in one of those enlarged photos; it frightened me more than any horror character. I had to turn that page with eyes closed when I read the book.

I used to sleep on a top bunk when I was child. There was a small ventilation grille on the wall just above me. It was a highway for spiders, especially at the end of summer. Once I woke with one on my forehead!

My brothers may still remember the reaction to that, as I leapt from the top bunk like an acrobat with a scream and proceeded to strip my bed in my search for the spider, which I never found.

I can still recall that sleepless night with torch in hand, and how I imagined the creature to be lurking and biding its time.

But that’s the thing; our fear is in our imagination. If I hadn’t seen that photo of spider’s eyes maybe I wouldn’t have developed such a phobia. Or maybe it’s the way they crawl, or how they eat their lunch!

I know it’s a common fear, but standing there on the bed with the creature dangling above my head in the jar, I was sure it was looking at me, maybe I could see the eyes too!

“Well done dad you’ve got it – take it outside please”.

I still had the tricky part to do, which was slide the piece of paper carefully under the jar, so I could trap the spider in it.

It was an awkward position with me fully stretched pressing the jar against the ceiling with one hand and slipping in the paper with the other. It tried to escape but I managed to capture it. Now all the tension in the room was relieved.

My son was fascinated and wanted to look and so did my daughter, now that it was safe to do so.

It was a house spider, commonly seen in our homes at this time of year. Their long legs give them speed, making them tricky to catch. The kids could watch it now close up, as it swung on a thread, so thin it was almost invisible.

After the kids had examined it I took it downstairs. My wife Kate didn’t want to see it, she has a real terror of spiders.

So I took it out into the garden to release it. I felt a bit guilty as it was cold outside. As I held the jar upside down it slid down its thread of silk, like a soldier leaving a helicopter.

Then I returned into the warm house.

“Job done,” I called out as I went back to the kitchen to wash the jar and headed back up to finish the story.

“Is it outside dad?”

“It’s in the garden,” I replied.

“Good,” said Skye

“Can we have a story about a giant spider now?” asked Lewis.

“Maybe not for a bedtime story,” I said to Skye’s relief.

Some may ask why I didn’t just kill it; it would have saved all that drama.

But I believe moments like these, when we have the power to kill a creature which will do us no real harm, is a moment when we can teach our kids, and also ourselves something important.

I recall having a heated discussion with someone who supported hare coursing.

I couldn’t understand how he could think this, and he responded by saying, “It’s just a hare!”

A hare is not a spider, of course, but the human attitude is much the same.

It’s why 70 per cent of wildlife has been eradicated by human behaviour during my lifetime, along with wild habitats.

Maybe I’m extreme but I believe that if we teach our children to appreciate and value the small lives we have power over, and have awe at the tiny world they inhabit, then maybe that is the way humans will turn around the disastrous course we are on.

I’ve done my best to teach myself that lesson also, despite my own fears. And it’s helped me see how other creatures have been demonised and killed often to extinction.

In the morning, as we set off for school, the kids looked for the spider in the hedge.

We found one, hanging on a thread. My daughter assumed it was the same one and apologised for putting him out in the cold and hoped he’d had “a tasty fly for breakfast”.

There was a connection.

Such tiny, seemingly unimportant connections with nature can be multiplied to make a real difference to human behaviour towards our world.

I’m glad I didn’t kill that spider.