Nature Is Terrifying

There’s nothing that’ll steal away a child’s innocence more than nature. Nature is cruel and full of grim death. Also, itchy.

About a week ago…

We venture into the great outdoors, also known as our backyard. As we survey our vast domain of mowed lawn and azalea bushes, in creeps nature. Actually, it creeps in and dies.

First, we sit in the grass. Suddenly, two children dive into my lap. Because there’s a bee in the grass. A bee who is struggling up a blade of grass. It falls back. It climbs and falls. Climbs and falls.

{sigh}

My children: What’s the bee doing?
Me: I think it’s hurt.
My daughter: Why Mama?
Me: Well, it keeps trying to climb and fly away, but it can’t.
My son: Can we help the bee?
I think: By killing it.
I say: Not really. Let’s go over here {as I point to the other end of the lawn and then I mumble} and I’ll hope that the bee disappears into the abyss of natural death without us stepping on it.

Over here turns out to include a mouse. A DEAD MOUSE. A gift from our cats. Wild, vicious, purring cats who sleep 15 hours a day.

Probable suspect: Juno. Don’t let her former owner’s declawing fool you. Also, the other cats are too stupid to kill anything.

Me {without thinking}: Look! A mouse!

My son runs over.

E: What’s the mouse doing?
Me: He’s dead.
E: Why?
I think: What do I say? Do I blame the cats? That makes the cats seem a little… terrifying. Why did I call them over again?
I say: Maybe the cats did it?
E: Oh… {reaches down to touch the mouse}
Me: Oh no! We need gloves to touch it.

So I get gardening gloves for everyone and my son picks up the mouse. I’m not sure if I’m the cool science mom or the stupid my-kid-has-the-plague-now mom.

E picks up the mouse for a while. Then his sister does. And back to our walkway dead mouse goes.

Me: Actually, we need to put the mouse away.
E: Away?

I want to be an example to my children and respect of all living things. I’m pretty sure this means flinging the mouse into the alleyway is not an option.

I glance around for options. As it turns out, a peat pot is a perfect coffin for a mouse.

Me: Okay, let’s put him in the coffin.
E: What’s a coffin?
Me: It’s a box for dead things.

Ooh, another vocabulary word! This is why I’m going to watch television with my children for the rest of the summer. Less REALITY.

Me: Where should I put the mouse and his coffin?
E: I don’t care.

Awesome! Because I don’t want to bury this guy in our backyard. Nature has a way of unearthing creatures. As does Stephen King.

Plop! into the trash coffin mouse goes.

E: NOT THERE! OH NO! OH NO!

Crap! Where are my maternal instincts? I should’ve gone for flinging it over the fence like an at-sea burial for neighborhoods with privacy fences.

Me, in a desperate play to not have to reach into our city trash can: E, you can’t say that you don’t care where the mouse goes then get upset when I pick the trash can.

E: Oh, okay.

He walks away!

Next up? Mating birds!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

15 thoughts on “Nature Is Terrifying

  1. That’s awesome.

    In Texas we have vicious Ants that bite the crap out of you. My son loved the nice Virginian ants, he used to feed them. When we moved to Texas I had to teach him that ants were mean and bite and leave welts. That wasn’t fun.

    Nature Sucks.

      1. Yes they do, but we also have tiny, black biting ants. They suck worse, because you can’t see them coming. They don’t hurt as bad as Fire ants, so that’s something…

  2. I’m a little worried for your kiddoes, Alex. 🙂

    Eventually they’re going to meet kids who do strange things…like swim in lakes and go camping and play in the dirt. Just letting you know so you can prepare yourself now. They might want to do it too. Eek!

    The dirt…It washes off, I swear. Hehe!

  3. I think I am still scarred from our cat Smokey Tom bringing baby birds (dead) to our garage door as a “gift”. I was a third grader and it’s still vivid. Ew.

  4. There are so many reasons to hate nature. We had a similarly tragic experience with a ladybug that my older daughter discovered, was lovingly watching & cheering on & that my younger daughter “petted.” FYI — don’t pet ladybugs. Or go outside.

  5. The day in the life of the suburban backyard. I love it!
    I especially love your final response to “I don’t care”. I’m going to use that one.

  6. Until I was a teenager, I thought that birds just got “Twitterpated” and babies came from the stork.

    Maybe you’ve got the right idea with your parenting skills.

    I didn’t even get to watch MTV until I was 18.

  7. I’m thinking you fled back to the house in terror but E and N thought it was a hoot and a half (that there’s Southern Talk). Go again. Maybe they’ll find a dead cat. WOO HOO!! This too is parenting.

  8. OMG! That’s hysterical – uh, I mean awful! I had a similar experience of nature encroaching on us to a less than desirable degree last week, too. We also found a mouse. But it was alive. And in the kitchen. Toes curling, trying not to freak out in front of the girls, DH and I were trying to use eco-friendly sticky traps. The mouse vaulted over those babies like they were nothing. So we chased it with a broom and managed to scoot it out the back door. What ensued was a long dialogue regarding where mice live and if any were under the bed, etc. A very long night….

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