Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bug Zoo Escapee
by H. Linn Murphy
I don't know about you, but there's a merit badge two of my boys have gone for that I don't much appreciate. That's the entomology badge.
Normally I'm fine with bugs unless they are invading my space, in which case it's open season. That's what hair spray and a match are for (or big boots). I don't freak out about spiders unless they are on my skin and obviously venomous.

But having to deal with their decaying, smelly, powdery carcasses gives me the heebee geebees, especially if the meal worms have gotten to them. That was the case with my second son's bug zoo. The little cannibals had gone through half the zombies pinned to the board and gutted them in the most literal sense. There were some seriously cool bugs on there who had met their demise in the cause for boy scout advancement.
So when my last son announced he wasn't going to dink around with a bug zoo, I had mixed feelings. For one thing, I'd just come by a grasshopper roughly the size of a Buick. And he's a pretty thing. He has red wings and an iridescent green body and he can just about get out of his jar all by himself...shudder.

Nope. The boy wasn't messing with that sucker. He advocated dumping it out in the yard where I found it. "I'm not dumping it back in our yard to eat our trees," I said emphatically. "That's why he's in that jar. If we have to dump it out, it's going out the car window into an undisclosed location." There that gargantuan behemoth sits awaiting its fate with fire in its eyes, while I decide whom to bless with my addition to their bug zoo.

So I guess my years of collecting bugs, driving boys to merit badge summits, checking to see if they actually brought underwear for their camping trip to Havasupai, and attending their eagle courts is about over. It's a bittersweet thing. I kind of liked doing many of those things with them. I work for the Boy Scouts as a unit commissioner. I used to work in the units and have more actual contact with the kids. Now it's less companionable and more administrative.

And my own are growing out of it all. Soon all I'll have left of them are their moldering bug zoos and an occasional phone call (if they're anything like their mom, they'll call every February 30th). It's kind of how I felt on Graduation Day with my life like a bug zoo before me. Did I jump or fly or run along the edge of the jar? Would I end up on a pin? Or escape into the wild blue yonder?

The world is wide open but I'm mildly terrified to leave the jar. I've had kids around for coughthirtyyearscough. What will life be like without them?
Well. Enough maundering. I've got to find somewhere to dump this monster.

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