Dead bugs are gross. And when it’s a school project, it’s even worse.
I had to make a “dissection box.” I don’t know what you call it, but I was in elementary school, and the assignment was to capture a bunch of insects and pin them to a board.
It was gross. I was terrified. I didn’t want to touch any of the bugs.
At school, they gave us time to venture into the field and woods surrounding the building, to capture whatever insects were on the premises.
Then we’d poison them “humanly” in these death chambers.
Maybe I was 10 years old, I don’t remember, but it was the hardest thing I ever did.
Bugs – Touching
For one, I didn’t like the idea of even touching the bugs. We had nets and would swoop them up, but then it was a circus trying to transfer them to petri-dishes without it escaping.
Some of the more “manly” boys would use their bare hands. They were so cool. It was like they were teetering on the verge of insanity – because clearly, no one in their right mind touches bugs.
And two, I didn’t like killing the bugs. It felt sad. To sit and watch while they squirmed in the poison, it felt psychotic, like we were playing God, and determining the fate of these helpless beings.
I didn’t like it at all.
Bugs – Crickets
As some back-story, I had already been terrorized by crickets – hoards and hoards of crickets.
Our house was built in the middle of a gorgeous pasture, but in the center of that land was a colony of crickets who refused to move. We’re talking millions of crickets here – like the epi-center of mating for all the crickets in the world – the “Garden of Eden” for crickets.
And of course, the crickets would seek sanctuary in our house.
We tried to exterminate them – nope. Tried to seal up the basement – nope again. Those crickets were nasty little vermin. They could somehow squeeze their bodies through the tiniest of cracks, shapeshifting their way into our home. It was a nightmare.
And killing them was disgusting. You’d whack them with a rolled magazine – but not too hard – or else their guts would explode everywhere. It was awful.
And one time I found a cricket in my shoe. Yep. By sticking my foot in there (Ugh!).
To this day I still bang out my sneakers every time I put them on. I don’t trust anything.
Bugs – More
So when the “bug-pin-board-project” came, I wanted to die. At the very least, I knew where to find a cricket…
With the project almost due, I was behind on my bug count – I needed more.
There had been slim-pickings on the school grounds. And whatever species lived there – like ladybugs – everyone else in class had the same sample already.
Begrudgingly I had to borrow a net and capture more bugs at my house.
I ventured into the field, net and petri-dishes in hand, and became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of insects. Our field was swarming with life.
There were bees and crickets. All sorts of moths and fireflies. It was like a smorgasbord of bugs. I could pick whatever I wanted, and all within a 10-foot radius – I barely had to move. I was amazed.
With my net full and petri-dished packed, I stuffed all those beasts into the freezer. And there I found my answer to watching them die. I still didn’t like the idea, but it felt more kinder and gentler to think about them slowly falling asleep in the deep freeze. And this time I didn’t need to watch.
(I’m sure my mom wasn’t too excited about it though, finding a frozen bee next to the peas…)
Bugs – Bounty
I found myself in the field again the next day, and the next. All of a sudden, I realized the bounty of bugs I had on my stoop.
I still had a fear of the bugs – because bugs are gross, obviously – but so didn’t everyone else in my class.
I realized no one else had access to the enormous volume of insects like me. I was determined to go out there and capture the best collection of bugs as I could find.
And I did. I had a really great collection.
Afterwards, I kept that shoebox of bugs tucked in my closet. For years later (ick!) I’d take it out from time to time and marvel at my effort.
I had overcome an enormous fear of mine – and not only conquered it, but pushed passed what I thought possible.
And to be honest, I had fun. It was a thrill to be out in that field, catching bugs, and doing hard things that no one else could.
I felt alive. And wanted to do it again.