Monday, May 4, 2009

A cricket by any other name . . . .

I love that my little ones are city kids. But sometimes I feel sorry for their ignorance about the great outdoors, an ignorance for which I am largely responsible.

Case in point: we were in the state park near my parents’ place in New Jersey a few weeks ago when Primo discovered an interesting insect.

“Mommy!” he yelled, “Come here! I found a CRICKET!”

I ran right over to witness his discovery. Now, I’m far from an expert, but even I can tell you that was no cricket.

It didn’t look anything like Jiminy or the cricket in Times Square or this picture of a cricket I found in Google Images, titled “Typical Cricket.” It just looked like your garden-variety fly, you know, small, shit-colored, ugly.

Did I disabuse my darling of the notion he’d found a cricket? Certainly not. I didn’t know what the hell it was anyway, could’ve been a cricket I guess, and I’m certainly not one to get hung up in the detailed classification of insects. But then he kept talking about his little cricket so lovingly, and passing along his erroneous understanding to Seconda, who was soon shouting, “Oh you coote little CICKET! I LOVE YOU CICKET!”

“Don’t yell or you’ll scare our baby cricket away!” Primo advised her.

“Okay, I gonna be ky-et!” Sec agreed. Then she rested her check on the palm of her hand and inquired of her older, her so-much-wiser brother, “What’s that cicket doin’?”

“Oh,” sighed Primo with a contented smile,” he’s just doing what crickets do.”

And they stood there, heads cocked to the side, mesmerized by the bug standing still on a branch.

This cricket- watching is part of a more global interest Primo now has in bugs. Ants, mostly. The truth is, he’s too scared to actually touch them, but he has no problem harassing me to pick them up (“GENTLY Mommy you’re being too ROUGH !”) and place them in his “bug habitat.” This bug habitat, made by Fisher Price out of cheerful yellow plastic, is nothing more than a torture chamber for ants, who starve or asphyxiate to death after being locked inside.

The good news for the ants is that I usually end up killing them instantly when I capture them, since it is pretty hard to catch one of those suckers without crushing it stone dead between your fingers.

But since Primo is not too savvy about these things, I can usually get him to believe the ant is alive for as long as he is interested in it, which is usually about five minutes. It’s Weekend at Bernie's, bug-style.

“Oh I love my little ant!” squeaks Primo, as we head up the stairs from our stoop to our apartment, “Do you love him, Mommy?”

“Of course I do,” I reply, “He’s my grandantbaby.”

We get home, and Primo wants to see his ant in action.

“Look, I built an obstacle course for little Anty to crawl over,” Primo says, “So put him on the table.”

I do. He lies there on his back, still, lifeless. dead as a doormat.

“Why isn’t Anty moving?” Primo asks.

“He’s probably exhausted from all this excitement,” I said, “Anty has never been adopted and brought to live with a little boy before.”

“Maybe he’s hungry,” Primo offers, “Let’s give him something to eat. Give him an edamame.”

I deposit the edamame on the table and check my email while Primo watches his dead ant do . . . nothing.

“He’s not eating, Mommy.”

“Why don’t you just let him rest, honey?” I offer, “And you draw a picture while he sleeps/”

So Primo starts drawing (with his fist, no fingers thank you very much) and before long, he’s onto the next thing – having giant mutant spiders knock down whole cities made of blocks – and I discretely brush dead Anty, not my first and certainly not my last grandantbaby, into the trash, without so much as a verse of Amazing Grace.

That’s how we roll in the big city.