A bug’s life

One downside to homeschooling is that you can’t blame someone else if your kid can’t read or spell or calculate the square root of 144.

Another downside is that you can’t defer the teaching of certain subjects that you really don’t want to teach to other people. I guess this is why some people do co-ops. But that’s not my scene, not with the rest of the zoo along too. To me, two or three hours in one facility that isn’t necessarily geared to the entertainment of toddlers, generally at hours that aren’t convenient for toddlers, and without a toddler’s personal kitchen with all the usual snacks and drinks and special cups, plates and bowls that a toddler “needs” just means two or three hours of a developing headache that lasts all day long.

No, thanks. For the foreseeable future, if my kids are to learn something, it will be because I, or their father, or they themselves, have taught it to them.

And so I find myself curling up on the couch with Fritz to read his science book, and the subject is insects. And the book is a good one, meaning it has lots and lots of photos. And the photos are closeups, so you can really see clearly those chomping jaws or the sensilla or the ovipositor of the female cricket. I find myself saying things like, “The female lays her eggs on the male’s back as shown in Photo Five – do you see them, Fritz? Good, because I’m not looking!”

Yesterday, the dog managed to track in a caterpillar and deposited it, unharmed, on the kitchen floor. I frantically called to Fritz to take the thing outside.

A week or so ago, Fritz was walking through the house with cupped hands and told me he had a cricket. “Outside, NOW!” I try to keep the near hysteria out of my voice, but usually fail.

And the piano teacher told me, as we were leaving her house a few weeks ago, that her husband had found a dead beetle that was rather unusual and did I want it? “No,” I replied honestly, “but my boys probably do.” She retrieved it and gave it to them in a ziplock bag. Of course they think it’s the coolest thing. But I had to lay down the law after the third or fourth time I found it in the living room. They can have their dead bug, but he absolutely must stay in their room, or it will go in the garbage.

The science book suggested ways for students to capture bugs and make an insect zoo. Every so often it encourages the capture of more insects to add to this collection. I told Fritz that we would not be doing this project. Maybe if we had a barn, he could keep a little menagerie out there. But not in my house.

I used to think I was a bad homeschool mom because I didn’t do much by way of arts and crafts. Now I know I’m a bad homeschool mom because I don’t do crafts and I don’t do bugs.

I completely agree that the best learning comes from experience as compared to reading. I’ll try to control my guilty feelings. But I know, should the curriculum ever tackle dissections of insects or animals and my husband happens to be deployed at the time, it ain’t gonna happen.

Geometry, trigonometry, algebra, calculus? No problem! Ants, spiders, crickets, silverfish? No dice!

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8 thoughts on “A bug’s life

  1. No ant farms? Oh, Michelle!Well, I’m with you on co-ops and I’m mostly with you on arts and crafts, but I am a science mom. I wish you could send the kids over to watch us feed the frog — we’ll take those crickets. (I’ll send mine over for math.)Admittedly though, I make most bugs stay outside. Except dead ones — they don’t BUG me!! :o)

  2. Oh, thanks, Barb. Just add to my feelings of inadequacy!

  3. I’m a bit fascinated with these southern bugs, myself, mostly because they are just so much larger than their northern counterparts, or because they are so much more poisonous. It’s a “know thy enemy” sort of thing, not a “wow, that’s neat” sort of thing. 🙂

  4. Bugs don’t bother me and spiders are our friends. You have NO reason to feel inadequate Michelle! You are one tough mommy to 6 munchkins, Army wife extrordinare, super organizer, sewing queen, and soon-to-be-running-again Super Woman!!!But…how do you feel about mice? If you answer “eek” then your super woman status diminishes to so-so chick. (just kidding!:))

  5. I’m right there with you! I can’t stand bugs. I know when I was a child I would sometimes capture them in a net and jar them for awhile, but I’m pretty sure I had help as I can’t imagine myself doing that on my own. AND – my poor boys – I am WAY too chicken to help them capture bugs. If they want to do it, they are on their own… and none of their findings are allowed inside!

  6. Don’t know how you do it! Have to send mine to school…

  7. Must be the season, because yesterday my boy showed me a “real, live” cicada. He was careful to point out the mutilation of the wing that allowed the bug to be captured. The day before, he found a leaf bug. It’s gotten so bad around here, that we have a <>house rule<> that if something is alive, or was at one point, they have to tell me before they show me.And the girl is just as bad. Yesterday she found a new pet and named him “Sluggie”.

  8. My sister-in-law is a closet etymologist. She seems perfectly normal and highly intelligent, but she has this (secret) love of all things insect. She was telling my nephew, in front of me, how you go about making a kill jar. Then she was outlining just what you can do for the 4-H project. And did I mention that she took him out to a stump in my front yard (that’s long gone now) and dug around with him showing him the termites? Yeah. Of course, I went along too. I screamed inside and writhed uncomfortably, but when the bugs are OUTSIDE, I guess it’s fair. I’m with you on the inside thing. (Is it ironic that she’s going to get a doctorate in social psychology?) 🙂So as I was reading your post and feeling like screaming with those “great” photos you included (thanks for that), I thought about how my sister-in-law will be a handy person someday in my life. You know. “Call Aunt B, and she’ll help you with your bugs. Hey, let’s keep the bugs at her house!”I just won’t ever feel very happy about all the creepy-crawlies that cohabitate with me. This is the time of year they crawl out of the woodwork (unfortunately, I think that’s a little literal too). Just last night, I was congratulating myself for NOT screaming like the victim of a horrendous crime when I spotted an ENORMOUS hairy spider between my laundry/pantry and kitchen, and instead just smashed it. (And made icky faces and gagging noises as I cleaned up the mess with a paper towel.)

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