Dad sleeps through the whole thing.
(This story came to my mind again recently as I wrote about Animal Speak, and finding your totems, and I thought I'd share it here.)
It's pretty hot here, tonight. Lacking other cooling, at the moment, I have the door cracked, but chained, slightly blocked open. The chain is to keep the (almost) two-year-old from escaping, not because I fear the neighborhood.
A slight breeze blows in. For background music we have the screaming and laughter of the kids playing across the street. Ah, life in a small town.
My lifepartner had a dayshift today, after years of almost exclusively swing. We're nightowls, perfect people for swing or graveyard, having to be alive in daylight is tough. He fell asleep soon after getting off work.
So the children and I were basically alone when the attack happened.
It started so innocently. A praying mantis fluttered in through the door and caught itself on the curtain from the window just beside it. Sensing a learning moment, I say: "Look, kids," indicating the mantis beside the door.
The six-year-old, tall for her age but very thin, in her tromp that reminds me of nothing so much as an elephant, rushes over to see the moment the words leave my mouth. I try to stop her, afraid she's going to scare it, or, worse yet, smash it. Her hand is less than a couple of inches from it as she leans to peek out the door. The mantis, scared by the giant, flutters to the floor behind her, as I'm telling her it's near her hand. She steps back and nearly steps on it, so I say: "Hold still a minute."
Too late, it's scared again, and launches into flight.
The two-year-old, seeing a bug as big as his hand fluttering toward him, screams and tries to back away. He screams again, starting to dance, trying to get away from it as it lands on his stomach. Dislodged, the mantis takes flight again and lands in his hair. Another scream, and he stops dancing opting instead for an all out bolt away from his attacker.
Finally the mantis makes it free of the loud giants and cannot get back out the door fast enough.
The kids watch, one still shaky and upset, as it becomes entangled in a web just outside, and I go and rescue it and send it on its way. The six-year-old is fascinated by the new creature, the two-year-old is watching for another attack.
Their dad, sleeping a few feet away from the screaming, dancing two-year-old, never even stirred.
So much for a learning opportunity. At least everyone made it out alive.
( © LuneWolfsong, republished from summer of 2007 He still has a strong fear/fascination with insects.)