There were quite a few parents lingering in the school courtyard.
We were chatting, waiting for our kids, when my sister-in-law, Cheri,
brought my attention to her latest find.
She is a pre-school teacher and fantastic teacher that she is,
she had located a wayward praying mantis sunning itself on the playground
She rounded it up in a little bug house for her class. Very cool.
As long as it remained in that little bug house.
I think I have mentioned that I am not exactly down with bugs.
I may have mentioned it more than once.
As a child, I was extremely down with critters. As in down on the ground with them.
I nurtured all manner of grasshoppers and roly polies, I caught frogs
and lightning bugs, I put lizards to sleep rubbing their scaly bellies
and I definitely loved praying mantises with their
crazy triangle heads and wispy arms. But alas, the love is gone.
As I tell my kids to say when they are adverse to something, I don't hate them,
I just don't care for them. And sometimes I scream when they get too close to me.
But I think it is totally fun that Cheri caught it to share with her students.
WITH HER STUDENTS. I did not particularly want her to share it with me.
But my nephew, Robert, came down from his class and plopped his backpack onto the table and sent the bug house flying to the ground.
We all took a step back looking for the mantis.
And as we were looking...looking...looking...it got real quiet and then
I think it was Cheri who pointed out it was lounging on my right shin.
ON MY RIGHT SHIN.
Like that was an appropriate place for it to be.
But before she could grab it,
the quiet comradery of the afternoon was broken up as I began to shriek
and flail my leg upwards and do some hopping kicks in the courtyard.
And then there was the cackle of laughter,
since neither Cheri or I could stop laughing as
I was doing my GET-THE-BUG-OFF-OF-ME high kicks.
Cheri began a sort of high pitched wheeze and I believe I snorted at least once.
At this point, we realized that the mantis was no longer on my shin.
So we calmed down to pause and look at the ground again,
to see where the poor bug had taken himself to after my gymnastic routine.
By this time, Will had come down from class and was standing next to me
and as I explained we were looking for Aunt Cheri's praying mantis,
I heard him say, "Ummm, Mom?" and at the same time I saw him glance down at my leg,
I felt an undeniable "tickle tickle" of tiny mantis feet ON MY LEFT SHIN
crawling upward toward the hem of my orange shorts.
With a confirming look, that yes, the mantis was unbelievably on my other leg,
I began a whole new series of shrieks and high jumps, flinging the leg high along
with executing a few cheerleading jumps I had learned in 8th grade.
At this point, Cheri could no longer speak since she was laughing so hard
and I had to pause for breath since I have not jumped that high or fast
since I practiced said cheerleading jumps in 8th grade.
The surrounding parents were either laughing or afraid to look in my direction,
thinking I had succumbed to an epileptic fit while waiting to pick up my kids.
At long last, mr. praying mantis was returned to his bug house.
But inside it you could tell he was unhappy with all my kicks since his
tiny arms were beating the air in a kind of praying mantis kung fu.
I'm pretty sure he was calling me out in his tiny insect voice,
"Whassup, crazy kicker lady? Is that all you got?"
At this point, I realized that Jack had also come down from his class but he was
standing at the opposite end of the courtyard. I called him over.
"Jack, did you see that? Aunt Cheri's praying mantis was on BOTH OF MY LEGS!
BOTH OF MY LEGS!"
He gave me a somewhat withering look and said in his laconic 2nd grade voice,
"Mom, I looked away in shame."
I saw Scott agree with him out of the corner of my eye.
And to that I say, I did what I had to do.
Because I don't care for bugs.