It’s springtime and our yearly ant invasion is in full stream. Since we first moved into this house six years ago, each and every spring we get giant creepy carpenter ants invading our house. Each year I put out ant traps and bay leaves, and they disappear. Only to return again next year. I will admit, the first year it sort of freaked me out, but now I’ve gotten used to it.
My girls on the other hand… Well, in the past G-Girl was ok with bugs. I’ve worked hard at not even letting her know that being scared was an option. We’d sing the “I Like Bugs” song from Yo Gabba Gabba! and I would make a big show of escorting each bug she found safely out the front door.
This year however… Well, G-Girl is in Junior Kindergarten and at some point someone gave her the idea that girl’s are supposed to be scared of bugs. So all last week, whenever she’d discover an ant she’s give a little screech and yell, “Oh no an ant!” She’d make a big show about not being able to enter a doorway, or walk down a hall because she thought she saw a bug. “Right there! Right there!” she’d yell. Screaming for me to come, “Help!Help!” Now deep down, she’s not really scared and she thinks this whole thing is a hoot. However, her little two year old sister is terrified. Shaking, quaking, in tears terrified. The big sister she looks up to has told her that ants are scary and she’s bought in, hook line and sinker.
This peeked one very long night last week. Baby-G woke screaming and I ran into her room to find her in tears. I eventually got her to calm down enough to tell me that the “ants were going to undo” her. Apparently she’d woken up, noticed an ant climbing on her night light, and gone spastic. After that I think she had nightmares for the remainder of the night. I settled her over and over only to have her wake screaming again and again.
So needless to say I’ve spent the past few days trying to emphasize what small, harmless, gentle creatures ants are. (While laying out traps, and praying for them to just go away.) I explained to G-Girl that she was scaring her little sister and that I absolutely wouldn’t tolerate her pointing out ants to her sister, telling her they’re scary or generally screaming or carrying on.
And I may have over done the whole thing, because now the girls are taking the damn critters on as pets. Now my daughters biggest fear is that someone will step on and hurt one of her little friends. “Oh come here and climb on me little ant, I love the way you tickle!” she yells, as she chases one around the hallway floor with her fingers. “Oh, look an ant! Right there! Right there!” they both screech with excitement, not fear, as they wander around the ground floor searching for more. It’s a bit much. Yesterday the girl’s were sitting in the dining room eating lunch, I stepped out of the room for a moment and over heard the big one directing the little one to feed their ant friends. I’m not just talking about intentionally dropping crumbs, my four year old was trying to hand feed hummus to an ant. Later I also caught her saying, “Oh look, this one is sleeping. I’ll just wave my pita at it and the scent will wake him up.” You’ve got to be kidding me.
|Our new pet. Let’s call him Jim. Image: Arvind Balaraman|
G-Girl is of course now upset at the idea of ant traps. Even though I bought the kid and pet friendly kind, I explained to her that they were poison and most definitely not to be touched. “Oh, but wait mom… if they’re poison won’t they hurt our ant friends?” I’m trying to explain that ants belong outside, and while I am happy to see them outside, when they are in our house I have to ask them to leave. Sigh. It’s a fine line to walk. I don’t want my daughters to be terrified of bugs, but I also don’t want to live inside an ant farm.
Any one else dealing with little ones and springtime bugs? Are your kids loving or loathing them?