(Originally posted in my column ‘From the Desk of the Green Eyed Girl’ in the Alaska Highway News)
I would like a gold star, applause, and perhaps flowers sent to my home for a recent accomplishment. Why? Well….when I was young, I was afraid of many things, but I was especially horrified when it was ‘flying ant day’ (that one day where God said to the ants – you have a crappy life so I am going to give you one day to experience the freedom of flight, perhaps mate once or twice and then your wings will fall off. But……..although we are taking away the superhero power miracle of flight, we will allow you to retain superhero strength and you will be able to lift objects ten to fifty times your size).
We recently experienced ‘flying ant day’ in the Peace region and our Grandson Dylan came over during the height (is that a pun?) of the flying ant activity. Dylan is very much like his Grandma, in that he is terrified of the flying ants. I wrestled with how I could reassure him that the creepy crawlies would not hurt him so he could enjoy his time outside. So…. I did the unthinkable….the unimaginable….the ‘that grandma lifted a car up all by herself with no help to save her grandchild’ scenario: I picked up a flying ant in my HAND and placed it in a jar with a lid so that Dylan could get a good look at it and know that it wasn’t scary.
Excuse me while I stop a minute…….even writing the words make me a wee bit verklempt as it brings me back to the feeling *gag* of that ant *gag* CRAWLING on my hand.
I then tried to get Dylan to hold the jar in his hand and get a good look at the ant who was now angry and no doubt thinking, “Sure……I get only a few hours with wings and some stupid human decides to use me as a prop to teach her grandchild a life lesson”. Dylan demonstrated unequivocal resolve – he would not actually touch the jar to get a closer look. If I set the jar down on the sundeck, he would lower himself into a crouching position and watch the ant, but there was no way he was getting any closer.
I don’t blame him. Honestly……if we had something called ‘flying spider’ day…..a day in which the spiders received wings, I would not leave the house. You think I am kidding but I am not. So, while I was uber impressed that I had picked up the bug, I KNEW that if it had been a spider, Dylan was on his own.
When I picked up that ant and its wings fluttered in my hand, I was terrified – sweaty with terror, but I saw Dylan’s face and I knew that I couldn’t show my fear or else he would end up just like me. He watched me closely, looking for some sign that I was afraid, but I was unflinching (paralyzed with fear but at least I didn’t show it).
Now that the ants are no longer flying, Dylan has become something of an ant assassin. He spies them with his fantastic 2 year old vision and runs up to squish them into the sidewalk and says [clapping], “No more bug”. The pendulum has swung from terror to delight and Dylan is dispatching the ant population one by one with no thought for his karmic account balance.
Sigh……I wish there was something between the two extremes. I wish there was something in between the tears resulting from the paralyzing fear of the ants and the bravado exhibited after their untimely death. It is really one of life’s lessons….isn’t it? Instead of learning tolerance and acceptance, we find comfort in destroying what we fear the most.
Or maybe it was just about squishing ants……