Oh, spring break. What a marvelous vacation from the computer screen you were. Relieved my bloodshot eyes, you did. A huge backlog in blog posts I need to read, you caused. Made me talk like Yoda, you did.
So, you know those little habits you don't think much of, until you hang out with your parents and see the same quirk mirrored in an older version of yourself? Last week, I experienced yet another epiphanous moment of proof that I'm turning into my Mama & Papa Bear: we save bugs.
For as long as my memory stretches, I've rarely been able to talk my conscience into ending a tiny little life just because it annoyed me or creeped me out. (Sorry PETA, eating them is another story. Yes, I'm a hypocrite.) Eventually, it got to the point where I wasn't just letting them live-- I was going out of my way to save them.
I think it's part of living in the country, but my parents' house has always had ants. Little tiny ants (that are actually pretty cute compared to the gnarly carpenter variety). Little tiny ants that get into everything.
Holy long photo caption, Batman. So anyway-- in the high school years, I once left a jar of honey open on the counter at my parents' house. And of course, I returned an hour later, horrified to find dozens of tiny little ants writhing helplessly in the jar's golden death bait (yes, my inner dialogue is always this dramatic).
It was my fault, clearly, for leaving it open. I grabbed a plastic fork, and snapped off all but one tong. Dipping the point into the honey, I pulled up one of the victims, holding it close to my face to assess its welfare.
Assessment: not good. Pulling it out of the honey had further entangled its limbs in the viscous bee-barf, and its tiny antennae were flailing in panic (because I know how to interpret antennae movements, yes).
I transferred the honey-and-ant conglomeration onto a napkin, set the faucet on a slow dribble, and rinsed the honey off the ant, hoping it could hold its breath. I set the tortured insect on a second, dry napkin, and watched it instantly soak all the water off the ant. He scurried off in a frantic zig-zag. Success.
[Repeat for forty-five minutes, or until all helpless little anty-lives have been spared.]
When I moved off to college, there weren't as many ants, much to the relief of my over-active conscience-- but there was a Jason. And it took months to convince him to let me take the spiders, ants, and flies outside instead of him killing them, but I did it.
Fast-forward to last week, while visiting my dad's house over spring break: We went out to dinner, and somehow a stowaway ant made it onto the table in front of my dad. He let it climb onto a napkin, and pondered out loud if the restaurant would make a happy home for it.
Lots of food? Plus. Lots of cleaning with bleach? Uh-huh. Not ideal in a happy ant home. And with a quick shake of his wrist, he flicked the ant off of the napkin onto his lap.
To take it "back home."
One of the funniest things I've ever seen? Yes. One of the most ridiculous things? Especially yes.
But also? One of the sweetest things I've ever seen. What can I say? I'm glad to be turning into my parents.