We blew in through the front door, my four children and I, after a long day out. It was already dark outside, but I still had to get dinner sorted to feed everyone before baths and bed. I dumped my handbag, and the red bag that I use to carry my sons various items of need, on the floor in the kitchen. Erik was at me already looking for head pressure. And then I spotted it; a little brown cricket on the floor in front of the fridge.
I don't know how it got in, but I thought it might amuse my son to see it jump. He liked things like that - jumping and sudden movements made by critters and people. So I brought him a little closer, nudged the cricket with my toes and said, "Look Erik! It's a cricket. Watch him jump."
The cricket did not jump. It just walked away a little bit. I nudged it again. This time it jumped. Ping! Hehe. My son, who hadn't seemed to be paying attention, suddenly knelt down on the floor and tried to pick it up. The little cricket kept crawling away from him. But he chased it down. "No bubba! Don't touch it!" I exclaimed in mild disgust. I didn't expect him to react like this! This is a kid with sensory aversions when it comes to his hands! "Don't touch it honey, just look at it. It's a cricket. It jumps." I went to nudge the cricket with my toe again. But Erik had other ideas. He went for that cricket again, and this time, he got it.
Sometimes, when my son is amused, he gets this curious smile on his face. Teeth showing and eyes squinted, and he shakes his head slightly too. He had this look now, while he waved this poor cricket up and down as thought it were flying, pinched between Erik's thumb and forefinger.
"No!" I cried, trying to slap it out of his hand. Then I paused, and thought; why worry? It's just a cricket.... it can't hurt him. My innate repulsion of bugs was just getting to me. I needed to calm down and let him explore nature. Yes. Calm down mum. It'll be 'right.
But it wasn't 'right. Just as I was trying to talk myself into this being ok, cricket still pinched in this fingers, he went for his mouth.
"NOOOOO!!" I shrieked so loud that I'm sure the neighbours must have thought something funky was going on at our house. This time, I did slap it out of his hands. Taking a deep breath, I said, "Just look at it bubba, watch it jump, ok?" But while I was speaking, he was down on the floor again trying to grab this poor traumatised cricket who was desperately making his getaway to under the fridge.
Erik reached in after it.
Erik pulls out his hand.
Hand goes straight to his mouth and then comes down flat, no bug in it.
I can do nothing but stare in horror. A little crunching sound reaches my ears. I want to cry. I need to do something. I should reach into his mouth and pull the little critter out. But I can't. I just can't do it.
I let out a slow, horrified, panicked wail. I don't know what to do!! My flapping, panicking hands land on my face in shock. I just don't know what to do now! What if it was a spider he ate? I'd have to pull it out then! Have to! But I can't bring myself to put my fingers into his mouth and touch a wriggling, leggy, half crunched cricket.
What kind of a mother am I? I am a failure! How could I just stand there and not pull the cricket out of his mouth! My stomach is turning.
My son spins around a few times on the spot, then walks away as though nothing has happened, leaving me in a state of mortified shock. He's fine. Perfectly fine. I, on the other hand, am totally freaked out right now. I walk around in the kitchen trying to focus on dinner, but I can't. I'm too freaked. I call my husband. He laughs. I call my sister and mum, they laugh. Everyone tells me he will be ok. My brother in law who is from Uganda tells me that the kids back home love eating crickets, and do so all the time. They are nice and crunchy. I wail a bit more.
It doesn't help. I walk around in a semi-freaked out state for the 24 hours or so, and all I can think is, why? Why? Just....why? How? How is it that this kid will not eat pieces of meat or vegetables in a stir fry, or steak, or roasts, and many other delicious foods, but he will eat a CRICKET, in a heartbeat!? Why? Just....rsflkdjsoisfjdsoifjoeji.....erghh! Why??!
Next time a little cricket drops in to visit, it will promptly be shown the door, before my son can treat himself to a bug snack.
Weeks later. Still freaked.