Sunday, March 3, 2013

Seeing the Pretty

I’m not sure why I buy toys for He’en when there’s a perfectly good supply of leptoglossus occidentalis crawling around whenever the weather gets above freezing. This afternoon He’en announced from the bathroom, “MOM! Dere is a STEEN-k-buhG on da faucet.”  [Henceforth I will will use the traditional spelling, but you, gentle reader, must promise to pronounce it, in your head, “STEEN-k-buhG.”]

I sighed inwardly and shifted Dragon Girl onto my hip.  “Okay, should we put him outside?”


Thence followed a one-handed search for an appropriate buglift. We concluded that a paper Dixie cup would do the trick. “I wan’ take him out my-SEF,” He’en insisted.

“Okay, but stay on the porch, please.” We are enjoying a mild day after the recent snowstorms, so I released He’en and her Dixie cup onto the front porch.  She sat there for a while, turning the cup this-way and that-way, examining its inhabitant. I settled down to feed Dragon Girl, which was just foolish, because Helen immediately reappeared inside, still cradling both cup and cargo.

“Please can I yook at him on da utha pawch [other porch]?”

Sure, why not. So I relocated both He’en and stinkbug* to the sunny south porch. She sat out there for quite a while, lifting and turning her hands in the mellow afternoon light while the stinkbug climbed up and down her aqua sweatshirt with the sparkly butterfly on the front.  (Being no idiot, the stinkbug had, by this time, abandoned his Dixie cup for warmer climes.)

I watched through the window, wondering if stinkbugs really do stink. I figured we would find out pretty soon. Helen’s outdoor mania regularly requires me to research things that hop and crawl; I knew the bug wouldn’t bite or sting.  I frankly was more worried about the bug than my child. Helen’s ROR with insects has, in the past, resulted in more than one mortally crippled fellow-traveler and subsequent mercy killing.  But she was very gentle with this one.

After a time, she re-entered the house with the stinkbug perched on her wrist like a microscopic falcon.

“He’s pwiddy,” she announced.

The stinkbug twitched an antennae in cheerful agreement.

Surprised, I agreed as well. “Yes, he is pretty. What is your favorite part of him?”

She raised her wrist to her nose, went a little cross-eyed, and decided, “Da gode [gold] on his back.”

I took a closer look myself. Indeed, he had a beautiful pattern on his back. “I like his little stripes. Helen, it will be a great gift to you, your whole life, if you can see something pretty where other people can only see an icky old bug.”

She huffed a short laugh, a disconcertingly adult sound from a four-year-old.

“I can see da pwiddy,” she assured me with total confidence.

May it always be so.
Photo courtesy of University of Rhode Island, R.A. Casagrande.
*It's actually a Western Conifer Seed Bug, not even related to the true stinkbug. It may get stinky when nervous, but it eats only tree sap.