I hate bugs. All of them really, if they are outside I will ignore them, if they come into the house, I freak out. Moths, crickets, cockroaches, spiders, even lady bugs really. I don’t like them, I don’t want them near me. I know they can’t really hurt me, sure some are poisonous, but those are easy to point out. I hate bugs. The crawling, hopping, scuttling, flying bugs, they terrify me. When did this happen? This was not always the case.
I’m four or five, I’m laying in the dirt, digging, singing, my siblings are probably close, but they usually left me to my own devices. I’m watching a daddy long leg, tiny little body, ridiculously oversized legs. I’m trying to feed it, throwing a leaf on top of it, using a stick to push dirt closer to it, occasionally sticking a blade of grass in what I’m assuming is it’s mouth. Not knowing anything real about bugs, I assume it’s dying because it won’t eat what I have assumed it needs to consume. I stick my finger in front of it and watch as it starts crawling on my hand, I turn my hand over, watching intently as the spider goes further up my arm. I put my other hand in front of it and enjoy watching the spider walk from one hand to the other without really going anywhere. It’s starting to get dark, I should probably head home, maybe I’ll be able to sneak him in the house in a jar tonight.
I’m eight years old in one of the churches bathrooms and I’m trying so hard to catch a fly. It has already been dazed because it is flying low and not darting back and forth. I finally catch it in my hands and try to peer in at it. It hasn’t moved, it is resting on my finger, I stare at its huge eyes and flick my wrist trying to get it fly away. It flies away, slower, lands on the wall, my eager eyes watching it as it goes. One of the girls takes off her shoe and slaps him, down he goes. I say something about her not needing to do that, there really was no need, I pick him up, say sorry, and give him a proper funeral, by flushing him down the toilet.
I’m ten maybe eleven, staring at the screen in my opened window. It’s quite warm and there are lady bugs everywhere. There are probably seventy-five lady bugs on my window alone. I’ve been messing with them, picking them up, hitting the screen, keeping them from flying around the room. Did you know lady bugs play dead? I learned that that day. I hit one of them with some string, it curled up its legs and “bled.” I put that in quotes because it wasn’t really blood but I’m not sure what else you would call it. I was mortified with myself, I wasn’t really trying to hurt the lady bug, it just happened, at least that is what I kept telling myself. I just kept staring at it, thinking about how I was pretty sure lady bugs were supposed to be good luck, did I just curse myself? I didn’t realize they would be so easy to kill. Then I watched as the lady bug started moving again, slowly, had to flip itself a little bit, I was mesmerized, did all lady bugs play dead? I ended up hitting quite a few with some string, I told myself it was an experiment, did all lady bugs do this? They do, they all would drop from the screen, curl up, and “bleed.”
I’m eleven maybe twelve, I know I’m in fifth grade, this is the day I’m almost positive everything changed for me. I’m getting off the bus, a nice lady from the neighborhood, who had a daughter on the same bus, used to drive me up the hill and drop me off at my house. As we were getting in the car I hear my mom, she had the day off and decided to walk the dog down the hill to come get me, she was unaware that I was getting in a strange ladies car everyday instead of walking up the hill. I hop out of the car happily and run over to my mom to tell her about my day, we started reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I got an A on my Great Grandpa paper, my friend got in trouble for saying this or that, fifth grade things. As I turn to look at her I remember screaming, just screaming, my moms shocked face, I started crying. A fly had just flown into my ear. Now this may not have been so terrible if flies died when they flew into your ear, but that is not the case. Flies fly into your ear and get trapped, when they get trapped they start freaking out, and when they start freaking out they fly up, down, around, and deeper into your ear. All of this is painful enough, but keep in mind, flies buzz, it is loud and obnoxious, now think about how that sounds when it is right next to your ear drum. I was screaming and crying and my mom is pulling on my head trying to look down my ear. So we went home and did the one thing you are definitely not supposed to do, we stuck a q-tip down my ear. Not sure how either of us thought this would solve the problem, but it successfully pushed the slowly dying fly further down my ear. We then drove to the emergency room, where a friendly doctor told me horror stories of bigger bugs he has had to pull from other children’s ears. A nurse held my head against her chest, she had to keep my head still so the doctor wouldn’t rupture my ear drum, and the doctor put the largest tweezers known to man down my ear and pulled out the tiniest of a now dead fly.
I’m twenty-two, I’m in my after school care classroom and I am attempting to get the elementary kids to sit and start on their homework. They are all excited, the book fair is at the school, they just want to show off what they were able to purchase. One of my students, a smart, hilarious, third grader at the time, bought a prank book. He thinks it will be hilarious to prank his after school care teacher, for the most part, I’m a good sport. I’m helping the second graders when I hear my third grader say, “Oh, Miss, what is on your shoulder?” I turn my head and there on my left shoulder, just chillin’, is a cockroach. I would like to be able to tell you I realized immediately it was a rubber, fake cockroach, but you see, when you glance at fake bugs quickly, or from a distance, they look amazingly real. I hit the cockroach off my shoulder, screamed very loudly, started crying, and proceeded to run out of the classroom and hide in the bathroom. Let me just say it is a good thing there were two teachers in the classroom that day.
I figure my attitude about bugs changed when the fly decided my ear looked like a comfy place to land. That may not be the only reason it changed, it could have to do with my brother chasing me with them, maybe when the millions of crickets lived outside any store in the United States. Maybe it was the first time I went to get a cockroach out of my apartment and instead of falling to the floor it flew at my face. I can’t say I know for sure. What I can say, is that I miss that adventurous little girl who was unafraid of anything. The one who wanted to see if maybe tonight would be the night she snuck a bug into her room to watch instead of sleeping. Maybe there’s a way to go back to that, that fearless innocence only a child has, it sure would be a nice thing to be able to achieve.