Mica is obsessed with bugs.

“Bug? Bug?” she’ll ask me incessantly if she finds me working in the garden. She wants to play the game where I root through the soil for an earthworm, sow bug, or some other small critter, and put it in her hand. Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we find a ladybug or a roly-poly. She’ll stand there for long minutes as the creature crawls (or wiggles, for earthworms) about her hand, watching it with rapt attention.

This, to her, is one of the only two interesting things about gardening. The other is that occasionally she gets to pour water on things; but that is less fun than one would hope, because I’m surprisingly picky about where I want the water to go. She tends to lose interest in the process quickly. “Bug?” she’ll say hopefully, as a hint that we should go back to a better activity.

And I have to admit that, especially when the bug is happy to keep wandering her hands for a while, I find her preoccupation with them both endearing and useful.

There is a potential downside, though. The other day I heard her exclaiming over a bug on the patio, so I came over to see — and found a spider the size of a nickel backed into a corner, front legs raised menacingly to show its bright green palps. “Back off!” its stance said. “Back off now! I’ll get you!” Mica smiled up at me with the same delighted smile she’d worn when Hobbes would hiss at her. “Bug!” she said happily, and reached down to make it move again.

I do my best not to pass my own fear of spiders on to my children, so I caught her hand, explained carefully to her that the spider was afraid, and that some bugs could bite her, especially if they were afraid. “Bite?” she said, pointing at her arm (which is where she now thinks bites happen, apparently). “Hobbes?” Yes, I told her, just like Hobbes.

She looked down at the spider again, which had not relaxed, and one hand crept tentatively toward it, either from force of habit or a deep-seated need to verify information.

It was clearly time to go inside for a bit.


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