Tuesday, 19 August 2008


We are in a field. It is Learn About Insects with the parks department. Shark, Squirrel and Tiger hunt bugs, make bee spinners, and irritate me with magnetic caterpillars they think I will allow to be stuck on the fridge. Mostly I hope they are educating themselves about revolting creepy crawlies that make a mummy Grit squeal and reach for a spare shoe with which to pound the little insect to death while shouting DIE! DIE!

This is of course not the attitude a good home educator should be teaching to her young offspring, which explains why we are here.

At the end of the session Shark, Squirrel and Tiger plead for one last turn round the bug hunting field.

Morris, one of the park's departments younger members, readily agrees to take us. Morris is quite excitable. He leaps up and down at the sight of a daddy long legs. He grins in delight shouting Brilliant! Brilliant! at the sight of an ant. He is a thoroughly good influence on Shark, Squirrel and Tiger, who soon enough start to mimic this enthusiasm for every living creature that is otherwise disgusting and lives under a rock. Soon they are squealing and pointing too, and collecting revolting things in jars.

Now find me an earwig! shouts Morris, and everyone scampers off to look for these loathsome creations. Find me an earwig! Have you found an earwig? pipes Morris, galloping around the field, pointing at rocks.

Then, foolishly, Grit kicks over a stone. Lo and behold here is the earwig. At this point I should have shut up. Instead I make the mistake of pointing indifferently and with a curled lip to this revolting specimen of insectdom. Morris leaps up, bringing Shark, Squirrel and Tiger along with him to ooh and aah at this repulsive sight.

I have some interesting facts about earwigs! says Morris, breathless with delight. Would you like to hear them? Shark, Squirrel and Tiger look at him, eagerly. Well, says Morris, Earwig mothers are not like ordinary insect mothers! Earwig mothers make very good mothers! They stay with their babies until they are big and, do you know what? They wash their babies all the time, licking them clean!

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger look totally absorbed by this nugget of information. Grit, however, is feeling distinctly queasy. And, continues Morris. Not only that! Earwig mothers feed their babies! Then Morris looks at me. And so do Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. And you'll appreciate this, mum, he says at me, beaming from ear to ear, Earwig mothers lactate from their skin! How helpful is that?

I can only say to Morris that referencing my motherhood status in terms of a lactating earwig is quite a depressing thought. And it has not made me love earwigs, either.


Kitty said...

I'm not really here - I'm an optical illusion. I'm not blog-hopping, I'm unpacking boxes and putting things away. Honest Guv.

Just had to tell you though, that No.1 used to have a pet earwig, whom she named Mavis. We looked up on the net about what earwigs eat, and that lady earwig lived a very happy, if contained life, for about 3 weeks, before No.1 was finally persuaded to let Mavis be free.


sharon said...

And a good squirt with the Aussie fly spray works every time! Currently just about bug-free as it's the tail end of Winter here but Spring and the next generation of the multi-legged beasties are almost upon us. Must remember to stock up with more Spray cans.