My kids received two ant farms for Christmas.
And on one BORING, hot stinking day, during the summer holidays, both my kids ran up to me and pleaded… PLEEEEEEASE CAN WE SET UP OUR ANT FARMS PLEEEEEEEEEEASE????
I have no idea what I was doing at that time. My toddler was asleep and I was probably doing something that just involved… you know, me. Maybe I was painting my nails. Or browsing through cook books. Or plotting cycling paths through the city on my iphone.
Because when they came up to me with sparkly eyes, smiling faces, big grins and this song and dance about ANTS, I was filled with annoyance, disinterest, guilt, resignation and more guilt and so I thought…
OH OK WHAT THEY HELL.
LET’S CRACK OPEN THE SCIENCE SETS.
OH GOD WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Suffice to say, the kids were REALLY excited. They tore open the boxes and started to throw and bang pieces together in a crazed, non-thinking, hyper-active, testosterone-filled way.
I swear it was like watching monkeys bashing sticks and rocks together. I was all – Dudes, let’s lay all the pieces out carefully and read the instructions.
But they insisted they knew how to fix it and that they didn’t need instructions… after all, they were MALES.
So I stood back and after a few minutes, they were stuck in a tangle of tubes, o-rings, half pods, and pod dividers… and they cried OH MUMMY, PLEEEEEEASE HELP US!!!
Sigh. So I disassembled their disaster… laid everything all out, then carefully went through the instructions, step by step. I could see them writhing in pain. I was going sooooooooooo-ooooooooooooooo slowly.
The boys started to shout advice and grab things and jam them in my face – MAYBE YOU NEED TO USE THIS TUBE AND PUT IT HERE?!? WHY HAVEN’T YOU PUT MY RED PODS TOGETHER?? OH NO I’M MISSING A POD LEG!! I CAN PUT THAT O-RING ON FOR YOU. THAT’S MY POD LEAVE IT ALONE.
I was trying to building TWO ant farms at ONCE. I was trying to direct them to do various parts of the assembly AND I was using my feet to nudge the kids away. I looked like a kung-fu master, using which ever spare hand or elbow to swat away wayward fingers.
In the end, they – quite maturely – agreed that they were slowing me down and they would leave me alone and come back when I had finished both ant farms. So. FINALLY!
Who designs these kid’s toys anyway?!?! Sheesh!
Ok I admit. It does look quite cool. But it is annoyingly delicate… and one small knock from a toddler and the whole thing is going to come crashing down. Sigh.
My 6 and 8 year old came rushing back with their eyes bugging out of their heads, with hoots and smiles and praises for their AMAZING MUMMY. Again, they were VERY, VERY excited.
But in assembling the ant farms, it occurred to me that we had to find the ants ourselves.
And of course, there were instructions for collecting ants. You had to soak a cotton ball in sugary water, plant the cotton ball at the bottom of a container, place the container near the ants… so on and so on. You even have to dig INTO the ants nest and harvest ant larvae.
But these instructions did not include any advice about how you can dig into an ant’s nest and not be bitten to death by millions of really, really angry WILD ants.
The boys found a large nest along our sloping driveway. But it was in the sun. And we were going to be there for a while. So I asked the boys to go back to the house to put on their socks, shoes, and hats… so that I could GET A FEW MINUTES HEAD START TO BEGIN THE TRICKY ANT NEST DIGGING.
They were so excited that they came back 10 seconds later, wearing roller skates(???), and carrying pod tubes, a bowl of sugar, spoons and various dangerous gardening tools. WTF! I just asked them to get socks, shoes, and hats!!
They were insane!!! The mere whiff of adventure brought on this thundering force of single-minded, testosterone fueled stupidity!!!
Can you imagine the scene? On a slopping driveway, with roller skates, they were lifting up bricks with spades… they were climbing behind rose bushes with little containers of sugar and tubes and cotton balls… ants were swarming around them and climbing up their legs… they were frantically smacking the ants away, flinging sugary water in the air, and shrieking from all the bites. ON ROLLERSKATES!!!
And my toddler? He was so excited by his brothers’ excitement that he wanted to be bitten by ants, stuck with rose thorns and fall over on his backside as well!
I just stood there holding my face in my hands laughing and crying at the same time.
They were crazy.
Stupid. Yet Loveable.
Ahh, I love my boys.