So it had been two weeks since we visited the recycling center. Picture to yourself what that means to a family of eight in the realm of milk cartons, “mixed paper,” and cardboard from bulk drygoods purchases from the almighty Amazon corp. This massive amount of recycling I manage to shove into the van without inconveniencing the children. The only other thing was a cooler that I put on the seat next to Sunshine, as we were stopping off to pick up some milk on our route. Blithely on this fine sunny afternoon, the day of this story, do I back the van out of the driveway and proceed onto the road. We are but one houselength from the drive when Rascal shouts:
“Mom! There’s a grasshopper in the car!”
Thinking to myself, okay, grasshopper, maybe this isn’t so bad. Maybe he’ll stay put and not jump too much until we get to the center. Whereupon, of course, my brave sons can relieve the van of the bug while I tend to the cardboard. Sons are great for that, I’m finding. Then Rascal yelled again. We were by this time maybe four houses down the road.
“No, Mom! It’s not a grasshopper, it’s that bug. The one Grandpa hates!”
I felt the blood drain from my face. A Praying Mantis. That’s what’s in our van?!?!?!?!!?! Those of you who have been reading this a while will remember that I am not a bug person. Praying mantii are fine in the garden, but please don’t let me have to see them. There’s something about them that make me want to run inside screaming. Maybe it’s those eyes. Maybe it’s because they look like they have arms and combined with those eyes give the impression that they are intelligent enough to take over the world if enough of them were to collectively go about the project. I’m sure there’s a great black & white Japanese video about that–something like Mothra. Anyway, back to the story, whereupon I’ve just heard that one of these guys is in my van.
In a high pitched small voice I call back to Rascal: “Where is the bug, son?”
Came the answer: “Right behind you!”
Fortunately there was no one on the road because I slowed the van down and swatted furiously at the back of my head, a knee-jerk reaction designed to keep anything remotely mantid from landing on my head or arm while driving. Rascal sounded exasperated as he said: “No, no, Mom. It’s on the seat behind you.”
Oh, great, so it’s staring down at my baby. Wonderful. I knew things couldn’t go on like this. I had a mental image of the thing landing on my arm while driving down the highway toward the recycling center, and of the thirty car pileup that would ensue. Or if it landed on one of the girls–if it landed on Princess, oh my-she’d pass out. She’d scream and cry and probably burst a vessel. A ladybug-sized beetle landed on Princess’ nose once and you’d have thought it was the end of the world. She comes by it honestly. So obviously there was only one thing to be done:
“Rascal, I’m going to pull the van over and we’re going to get this thing out. Can you get it out for me?” See, sons are good for that.
“You can’t pull over, Mom. Someone will wreck into us.”
“Rascal, we’re in our neighborhood. No one’s on the road. We’ll be fine, and I can pull over right…here.” I turned the van down the next street over and parked on the side, putting on my flashers. There wasn’t a soul in sight, and my main worry was that in our big gray van the neighbors would think we were some sort of shady cleaning service or something. So I went around to the passenger doors, open them up….
…to see a katydid on the cooler.
A juvenile katydid.
“There it is!” Rascal points.
I stand staring at the thing, blinking. Then I said with a note of annoyance: “Well, I can take care of this thing!”
So I humanely released the katydid into the neighbor’s yard, surveyed the van for other bugs (there was a beetlish critter that Rascal released at the recycling center) and then we were off again.
I am still not a bug person.