Friday, June 10, 2011

Respect ALL Creatures

I turned my children out in the backyard and went back to washing dishes. This is often the way of it. You're driving me NUTS will you please go outside?? When I heard my son's hearty belly laugh through the sliding glass door, I was curious as to what was so funny. They were jumping. High. And landing. Hard. And then laughing their little hearts out. I picked up my dish towel and went to investigate. When I inquired as to what sort of intelligent game my two and four year old might have devised, I was horrified when the answer was simply: "We're squishing ants Mommy!"

Delicious little ant squishing toes!
Now hear me out. I know kids squish bugs. I squish bugs. But I squish bugs because I'm being threatened or irritated by said bug, not just for kicks and giggles. A cricket who's singing in my bathtub at two in the morning? Squished. The fruit fly who keeps finding it's way up my nostril? Squished. The cockroach under the chicken's water fount who hissed at me and made me scream like a girly girl? Squished and squished again.What bothered me was the utter enjoyment my children expressed at the destruction of teeny, tiny, harmless black ants. I know there was no vindictiveness in their actions....they are still very young and perhaps I should just be happy they entertained themselves long enough for me to get the dishes done.

But...I figured now was as good a time as any for a little lesson in empathy and the importance of respecting all of the Earth's creatures, no matter how tiny or useless they appear. I explained to them the delicate balance of all living things and how if just one single organism were absent, our world wouldn't work as it should, using the squishing of ants as an example. My daughter wrinkled her nose and replied, "So if we squish ants,  all the trees will die?"

....Well, maybe they weren't ready for such an in depth conversation about the web of life. However, they could still learn something about the little guys they were so gleefully stomping. Perhaps with some new knowledge about ants, my kids would have more respect for their place and stop trampling helpless insects for fun. Time for an ant farm!

You will need:

A mason jar
A scrap of cotton or muslim
A rubber band

  • Fill your jar about three quarters of the way with soil.
  • Dig up some ants and put them in the jar.
  • Cover the mouth of your jar with the cotton and use a rubber band to secure.
  • Place the jar in dark place or wrap dark construction paper around it. Ants won't dig if it's too light. We're trying to simulate an underground environment here.
And ta-da! Your very own ant farm! No need to run out and buy some cheap plastic thing to make your ants happy. Give them a cotton ball saturated with water to drink and either fruit or breadcrumbs to nosh. They should start digging straight away and in a couple days you can observe the intricate network of tunnels.

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  1. I love this idea! We have recently been infested by ants and my daughter has taken to trapping them. Although she won't set them free and they eventually die in her little plastic bug trap.

  2. I wish we were neighbours. I always explain away blackflies and mosquitoes by saying that the frogs would be awfully hungry if they couldn't eat them, and then who would sing us to sleep? That being said, Violet gleefully squishes any and all bugs with her bare feet (cringe!) and likes to look at the "goo" that comes out. Ugh. Just a phase. I'll admit, when I heard you squished a cricket, my mouth dropped open. Don't you know they're GOOD LUCK! haha!