A few weeks ago we were at a library story hour. The group of kids just happened to consist of all girls that day. When the librarian asked, "who likes insects?" there were some squeals and "ewws!" and "not me's!" And then of course my daughter piped up with an enthusiastic "I do!"
Having a little girl who loves creepy crawly insects is, I think, a direct result of God's gentle sense of humor. He seems to delight in reminding me of the goodness of his creation, even the parts of his creation that have made my skin crawl for years. I went through a period of time (when I was much older than the sweet girl is now) where I took some active, academic interest in learning more about "bugs" -- and certainly I found some insects fascinating when I was younger and spending hours in my backyard. But I've never been too enamored of them overall and I've had a real phobia about spiders since I was about six (just ask my sisters).
But my kid is insect crazy. Maybe because she DOESN'T have a yard, and we have to do on insect watching when and where we can (I almost said "on the fly" -- ouch!) or maybe because we've tried to cultivate a love of carefully looking at things. Who knows why. Maybe it really is just part of who God made her to be. She's always loved tiny things.
Her favorite book at present, the one she's begging for repeated readings of, is Jerry Pallotta's The Icky Bug Counting Book. The only part of it she didn't really understand or like at first was the title. Why did they call these cool bugs icky? She's finally come around to the concession that some of them may be a little "icky" -- like the stinkbugs and the blister beetles, for instance.
Last night's dinnertime conversation was punctuated by her frequent forays into facts she's learned from this book. "What have YOU learned from the Icky Bug Counting Book?" she kept asking me and her Daddy too. I thought about making insect-talk off-limits at the table, but it's difficult because we encourage family talk about the things we really enjoy or have been doing/thinking about during the day. If she was really try to bring up gross topics, that would be one thing, but it's hard to nip joy in the bud when it's clear that she finds this stuff utterly fascinating and not at all gross. "I think they use parts of blister beetles to make medicines for people," she said earnestly last night. So last night we decided to grin and bear it and joined in with her enthusiasm, sharing about things we'd all learned from the book. (Did YOU know that pillbugs are actually crustaceans, not insects?)
Of course, when bedtime rolled around with its nightly "what shall we read?" question, there she was, all hopeful, Icky Bug book in tow. I've borne the brunt of the re-readings lately, so I pulled her Daddy aside in the hallway outside her room and asked him, in a low voice, if he'd mind pulling Icky Bug duty tonight. "Sure," he replied cheerfully. At which point I hugged him and exclaimed "Have I told you how much I love you lately?" "How much?" he teased. "I love you more than all the army ants in all the world."
That's a lot of love. And not at all icky!