We were all baking biscuits in our little kitchen nook last week, an add-on to the yurt, when I spotted something seriously revolting on my beautiful wooden art doll. It was as if someone had stuck a plump blob of chewing gum right on its face. “URGH! What is THAT?” I exclaimed. The five year old boy who lives on the farm with us, inspected it and confirmed that it was a praying mantis egg.
Firstly, how funny that we live in the kind of a world where a very young child can correctly identify the egg sacks of a variety of insects. Secondly, it must be some kind of hilarious cosmic joke that a praying mantis lays its nest across the noggin of my beautiful art doll the very month after I woke up with a praying mantis sleeping on my nose. Thirdly, URGH GROSS! It has taken 4 months but we are slowly winning the battle against the insects. I have been diligently swiping Oil of Cloves everywhere as I was quite convinced by the argument about its effectiveness proposed by a Texan housewife in some weird forum listed on page 4 of the google search results for “Natural Ways to Stop Bugs Creeping Into Your Home and Hanging around On Your Faces.” (Or something like that.)
Perhaps more effective than even the Oil of Cloves, however, is our growing courage. We are getting braver in the face of some of the gnarlier pests around- I no longer want to run and keep on running, Forest Gump styles, when a cockroach scuttles out from a crevice.
There is one insect however, that I don’t think we will ever come to terms with. The Weta is an insect native only to New Zealand, a sort of Very Evil Beetle. If you were to try and capture in your mind all the darkness of the universe , every bad thing that has ever happened, every wicked curse ever uttered, every shell suit ever worn, and give it a physical presence on earth you would probably come quite close to the Weta. It has goggly eyes and prickly, spikey legs. The legs are muscular so it can leap and cling. When it gets mad it HISSES and FLIPS its body all about, like a satanic Hokey Cokey. When it gets furious it BITES. They can grow so enormous that they weigh the same as FIVE MICE. Have you seen Peter Jackson’s recreation of King Kong, the one with Scarlett Johanson? At one stage they are in the forest and they fall down into a bit of a pit and there is a giant, bigger than human size Weta in there.
I think it is the scene with the Weta that made it have to be a 12 rather than a U.
One surprised Tim tonight lurking in the corner of the long drop loo(the Weta was lurking, Tim was doing His Business, which was good as it was QUITE a fright.)
And one tried having a bit of a bounce with us on the trampoline the other day. Ramona didn’t think much of that at all, and Juno… well… Juno just wanted to eat it. Juno has been in that “Quick! I must shove everything in my mouth!” stage for many months now, but it has taken a new turn since she has learned to walk. Being able to stand up has given Juno her own dose of courage and she now explores far and wide, stretching the invisible cord much further than Ramona ever did. (This means that she isn’t a vegetarian any more for as soon as she was able to, at a key moment when I was distracted, she waltzed right over to the farm dog’s bowl and ate his dinner.)
Watching Juno learn to walk and run (she is actually quite scared of the dog but she does really like his dinner so she has found herself sprinting a bit earlier than other babies) has sent me in to reminisce mode over Ramona’s first days of walking.
It couldn’t really have been a more distinct setting. It was the beginning of the Occupy movement and we were spending every day up at the camp at St Pauls, London. We would go home to sleep each night but every day I would cycle through the traffic with Ramona to the steps of that grand old church where we’d listen to speakers, have great discussions with other families, and add our own voice to the thousands calling for another way. There were a few parents and children that would meet most days. We had a suitcase with a blanket and some toys that we’d unfurl, and a protest banner, “Tots with a cause!” that we’d sit under. Everyday there was a massive meeting where decisions were made by consensus, and each day Ramona would take a few more steps, weaving wobblingly in between everyone. She went from holding my hands to chasing pigeons solo while people discussed non violent protest strategies and crafted manifestos for a more equal society.
Juno meanwhile has stumbled into leg confidence along rows of cabbages, across the wizened roots of mandarin trees and through paddocks of grass taller than her. She has far, far superior balance compared to that of her sister, whose feet only had to negotiate the flat, smooth paving stones of St Pauls, but she hasn’t had such a comprehensive introduction to capitalism.
Of course, as I told the journos so interested in Occupy London back then – it is never to early to help a child have a sense of their own agency. I must really give Juno the same primer for protest. We’ll start immediately. I’ll make up a chant about our right to have artists dolls without insect eggs on their faces and we’ll make a banner “DOWN WITH WETAS.” The movement shall be called Occupy Yurts (Without Insects)
Um… anyone want to join in?
Lucy writes a parenting and lifestyle blog over at Lulastic and the Hippyshake (lulastic.co.uk) and she just recently launched a thrifty blog, Wonderthrift, especially for stylish and eco minded folk who want to save money. Lucy, her husband, and her two daughters have just moved to New Zealand and you can follow their adventures in wilderness each month here on Loved By Parents.