This request began one morning when C woke up and told me, "I just dreamed about an ant. I want an ant, I want to have my very own ant."
That day, and throughout the next week, every time C saw an ant she dropped to the ground, plastered her cheek to the pavement, and declared that this just might be her ant. She would wiggle along the ground, lifting her cheek only occasionally, and follow the crooked line of the ant, telling me that she should bring this one home "and take her to bed and snuggle her and love her and eat pancakes with her."
While I'm all for extending the love in our home, I'm not in favor of tucking Miss C into bed with a dozen ants each night. This really, really, upset her, and she took it to be a "no" along the lines of refusing her food and water, because bringing an ant home, she informed me, was not something she wanted. It was something she needed. And the ant needed it too, couldn't I tell by just watching how quickly they scurried away from her fingers as they tried to give tiny little ant hugs?
About a week after The Ant Dream, I was pulling C around our neighborhood in a wagon, and she suddenly began shouting, "AN ANT! AN ANT! MY ANT!" She had been doing this, ant spotting, as though finding an ant on the ground in mid-July might be akin to spotting a giraffe wandering the horizon of our backyard. A rare treat. So, I didn't turn around, but said, "Mm-hmm," and kept pulling. Her cries grew more insistent and frenzied, but the wagon was heavy and I had momentum on my side. Starting up a wagon pull from scratch requires a lot more than continuous motion provides, so I wasn't about to sacrifice the roll we had going for an ant, even her ant. So, she bailed, leapt out of the moving vehicle and darted toward the middle of the road where she assumed the plastered position. Next to this:
Now that's an ant I can handle. I will admit that I didn't let her take the ant right away. I thought maybe some other ant-addicted kid had dropped it and would be scouring the streets, moaning and weeping for the beloved single antennae creature. We stopped by the ant area later in the day, and the ant was still there, waiting patiently, with some tire tread marks over it. She scooped it up, brought her ant home, bathed it, cuddled it, and fed it pancakes the next morning. And every night, I'd tuck her in, next to the snuggly plastic ant.
As November approached, the Mr. and I knew that we'd be getting C an ant farm so she could bring real live ants of the world into our home. (Or, as a friend suggested, we could have just sprinkled sugar along our countertops and let the magic happen. Cheaper, I suppose.) We ordered the ant farm, but it came sans ants. Being late fall, there was nary an ant in sight, so we placed an ant order and waited. ( I do not recommend having your kid open an ant farm on their birthday only to tell them, 'The ants will arrive in 5-8 business days.')
5 business days later, it was a balmy Saturday afternoon and C and I were outside chalking when the mailwoman arrived. (When I write that word, mailwoman, Blogger underlines it in red, as a mistake or misspell, but not when I write 'mailman.' So how does one call their female postal employee?) Our mail carrier, deliverer of letters and all things wonderful, as well as holder of bills and other unpleasant surprises, cautiously approached our house. I assured her that The Beast was inside, our Boxer who would viciously kill you with slobber and love were he given any opportunity. She smiled a rather distrusting smile, the kind that you give to people who think their pets are just fine despite any evidence to the contrary, like the Turner and Hooch type things hanging from his mouth. And she deposited not one, but two packages into our mailbox. We opened the big package and it was a beautiful book from my friend Katie.
The book is an alphabet tour of amazing women. A is for Ameila Earhart, B is for Babe Didrikson Zaharias, C for Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, D for Dolores Huerta. The biographies are one page apiece with beautiful mixed-media illustrations. I love this book because I get to learn about living women I probably should have heard of, but have not, such as Maya Lin, who designed the Vitenam Veterans Memorial.
Of Nawal El Sadaawi the text reads,
When Nawal was born in Egypt, the births of boys were celebrated but the births of girls were mourned.It goes on to quote her beautiful writing,
"Nothing is more perilous than truth in a world that lies."C and I sat there, chalk aside, reading the book and looking at the pictures. After a long while, we got up and opened the second, smaller package, pulling out the vial of ants.
And the ants? They're just fine.