Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our Walk with a Potato Bug

My daughter, Princess Contrary, is quite the puzzle. In some ways she’s a typical girl, playing dress-up, wearing mommy’s lip gloss, and talking, non-stop, about ponies. In other ways she’s completely unexpected and complex (But aren’t we all, ladies?). She loves to play in the mud, wrestle hard with her brothers, and befriend bugs. Last night she took a potato bug on our walk.

I didn’t know we had company until we were halfway to the high school track (note: Is there a better pre-bedtime haunt? A fenced raceway. Run, kids, run!).

“Mom, wait,” she said. “I can’t drop the potato bug.” She’s been searching endlessly for ladybugs since the weather turned; I guess she settled for the potato bug last night. So we waited for Leah and her potato bug to catch up. Again. And again. And yet again.

As we walked I decided which member of the animal kingdom I envy most. You know that party game: If you were an animal, which would you be? I always thought it was a silly question, until last night. I’d be a duck.

Have you ever seen a duck cross the street with her ducklings? When I worked at BYU a little webbed flock would show up now and then, and occasionally a mother and her ducklings would decide to cross a busy university street. Drivers would stop and let the crew waddle safely to the sidewalk. Did the mother duck have to turn around and chastise her ducklings? Tell them to hustle? Wave a stray beak back in line? Push the runt over a bump on his little ducky trike? No. They followed their mother without one quack of protest, even in the face of looming danger (yes, student drivers are dangerous!).

Me? I look like the Crazy Loon when my flock crosses the street. We may all start from the same corner, but we don’t get to the other side in an orderly fashion. Kaleb weaves back and forth on his big kid bike, Leah stops and starts as she talks to the bug in her cupped hand, and Zack, depending on his mood, either zooms or creeps across on his squeaky Lightening McQueen trike. All the while I’m body-blocking children in various stages of cross from oncoming traffic. Squeak, squeak, squeak.

But we all got home safely. Hoorah!

Why did the mommy cross the road? Again. And again. And yet again? To tucker out the rowdy crew before bedtime.

Mission accomplished (although the potato bug, I’m sad to say, didn’t make it.).

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