My backyard is a bug cemetery. Like a secluded rural town, it is where the bugs go to die. Eventually there will be buginars where the bugs can warn one another. And little bug signs saying BEWARE! with a skull and cross bones.
For centuries bugs have communicated primitively. They probably always will. Partly because it’s hard to warn others when you’re dead.
(image courtesy of despair.com)
For now any bug found by little hands in the Westover backyard instantly becomes a pet and eventually dies out of self defense.
Roly Poly potato bugs are put on the picnic table upside down, their little legs clawing at the air desperately trying to turn over. His cousin is put in the back of a plastic dump truck and pushed around at heart stopping speeds. When he reaches the grass he is urged to get out and have an adventure.
Sidewalk cracks are their only chance of survival. Even then fat child fingers dig at the crack.
“Where are their ears?” The deafening roar is millimeters from the roly poly’s body.
I have witnessed the horror of too much childlike love for these poor creatures. Gwen pushing a curled up ball of roly poly potato bug around and around and around. The ball never opened. Rigor mortis had set in.
Parker was frustrated by a roly poly that kept crawling away from him. Parker’s movements are difficult to describe. I was left feeling sick to my stomach. My impulsive lunging to save the crippled creature with one antenna could not be stopped.
Parker was so nonchalant about it all too. “He lost his arm. It’s ok, he has another.”
Stifled scream after stifled scream. Gavin finally convinced one to climb onto his finger. Then he lovingly tossed the roly poly into the pool because if it’s fun for a 6 year old boy, it must be fun for a poor defenseless bug. The roly poly dropped like a rock with a sickening thud at the bottom.
The look on Gavin’s face was priceless when I told him not to put the bugs in the pool. He quickly scooped up his pet and laid him out on the sidewalk. That may be the one Gwen was pushing around.
As soon as one gives up the ghost to escape the torture, the kids are on their hands and knees searching for another victim. Only there is nothing malicious in what they do. They simply love too much. Or squash life completely unaware that one heavy running footstep landed square on the roly poly brave enough to climb out of the crack.
It was like watching a movie in slow motion. I could see the foot hovering in mid air over the unsuspecting roly poly. I could almost read the bug’s mind, “I think the dangerous fingers have stopped poking at me. I’m hungry. Maybe I can get out of the crack and . . .” SQUISH!
I try to distract my kids but then a ladybug lands on their arm and I pray for the ladybug’s soul as the kids race it to the garden. Then a hummingbird satiates thirst and Parker stalks it like a hungry cat. He moves slowly so he doesn’t scare it but his intentions are not to innocently look. No, he wants the bird to land on his finger. The bird high tails it out of there never to return that day.
Sometimes I wonder why God put bugs on the earth. And I wonder if we will be judged for all the bugs we intentionally and unintentionally kill. Then my heart starts racing all over again. Because my backyard is a bug cemetery.