Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Phobias, the Ant Farm and my Son

Written Summer 2005

Ok. I admit it. I have a phobia. I am terrified of bugs. I know it doesn’t make sense. I mean we are a lot bigger than most bugs so it should be the other way around. Somehow, in my genes, the whole illogical fear that a bug is going to attack me and leave me to die is real. I understand that they are important to the whole circle of life thing, but that circle does not exist in my house. Therefore, insects will not exist in my house. I fear that I am passing this fear to my son who is 5. So now, instead of franticly screaming, I am putting on my brave face and using a calm voice to call my husband to kill what ever insect is torching me with its existence. This is my life. I am held hostage by bugs.

So, my son received an ant farm from his great-grandmother, Nanee. I was relieved to find out that the ants were not included. Anyway, my mother-in-law assured me that the ant farm would be safe and she told my son that the ants would come in the mail which meant that I would have to really order the ants. I inspected the ant farm for security very thoroughly. In my opinion, the top does not close as tightly as I would like but when I think about it, the only standard I would hold it to is sealing it shut with super glue which would not be good for the well fare of the ants. I was disappointed to see that the ants needed to be kept in a cool place away from sunlight. Preferably, between 60-70 degrees which meant that the ants had to live in my house. I have come to the conclusion that Nanee must not like me very much or she is trying to drive me insane.

So, because I want my son to like bugs and not be a strange and twisted person like his mother, I went ahead and hesitantly ordered the ants. Several days later, a suspicious package arrived and inside the package was a small glass vial full of “harvester ants.” As soon as I saw the package, I became concerned. Not only was the package covered in warning labels about biting ants, I could not see how I was supposed to get the ants out of the vial and into the farm. Was I actually supposed to take the top off the vial with my bare hands and hope that they would all get into the very small and insecure opening at the top of the container? This seemed impossible and I was not ready to try the impossible with biting ants. I read and re-read the directions carefully only to find that my worst fears were true. I would have to get them into the hill on my own. I put them in the refrigerator like the instructions described. I decided to leave them in there for an extra minute or two for safety precautions. To my delight, the cold refrigerator slowed the ants into a trance. I donned my gardening gloves and took the cap off the vial and violently shook the ants onto the sand in the ant hill. The top was on the hill half a second later. Success!

So, we have been watching these ants. They dig tunnels which seem to have purpose. They are the busiest creatures I have ever observed. They need water and food. Unfortunately, I am having a hard time keep them alive. I fed them things which were listed in the book, but they are still dying. In fact, now most of them are dead. So I have another problem. How do I explain this to my son who is already weary of bugs due to his mother’s strange behavior? Now it appears that his mother is killing the bugs. I am not trying to kill them! I promise I am not lacing their lettuce with Raid!

So, I decide to hide the ant hill from my son. Maybe if he doesn’t see it, he will forget about it. Maybe, he is still a concrete operational thinker like Piaget suggested. Well, this seems to have worked, until the other day that is, when he found the grave yard in my closet.

I guess that you can not hide the circle of life from your children. It needs an explanation. They need to know what happens to life and how the circle exists and sustains its self. And how the circles involving bugs do not exist in my house.

No comments: