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Homeschooling is Cool – Even when Being a Parent Stinks

March 10, 2010

I saw a sign in Jimmy John’s the other day – it enumerated the parts of an apology:

  1. What I did was wrong.
  2. I feel bad that I hurt you.
  3. How can I make it better?

Realizing that this was a very well spelled out lesson, I resolved to make sure I taught it to my  children the next time an opportunity arose.

Yesterday, it happened – I had a compelling opportunity to teach this important concept.  The only problem was, I had to teach it by example.

Here is what happened.  A couple of weeks ago a family at lyceum gave away baby preying mantises.  We got five.  Shortly thereafter, one of the little darlings killed another one.  This gave us an insight into what we had let ourselves get into.  My oldest was devastated by the death.  He planned to take the bugs to show at Royal Rangers and he almost didn’t go at all because he was so distraught.

Then, the night before last, I killed one of the remaining ones.

I needed to feed them.  I didn’t see the one on the lid.  When I realized it was about to escape, I brushed it back into the box.

Baby Preying mantises are FRAGILE!

So now, I had to model for my children the proper way to apologize.

I told them what happened, explained that it was an accident, but that I was still responsible.  I told my, now sobbing, oldest child that I felt bad that I had hurt him and that we would figure out together what I could do to make it better.

It turns out that Mario Tennis for Wii is equivalent in value to the life of one of our family’s six legged pets.

Oh, and the girl was perfectly happy with the opportunity to do a craft – but then, while she liked the things, she wasn’t seriously broken up at the untimely demise of one of them.

Beyond this lesson, the preying mantises have proven to be extremely educational.  We have learned this much so far:

  1. Baby preying mantises do pretty well feeding on flightless fruit flies.
  2. Oh, and flightless fruit flies exist.
  3. You can buy flightless fruit flies at a pet store.
  4. You can buy a vial that will PRODUCE flightless fruit flies for about five weeks.
  5. Producing flightless fruit flies means your children can also learn about maggots.
  6. A cage that will hold a baby mantis effectively does not necessarily do so well with fruit flies.
  7. Packing tape will keep baby fruit flies in safely – you only need to keep holes in it and keep the door free of tape.
  8. For some reason, flightless fruit flies don’t seem to stick to packing tape.
  9. While a preying mantis does not fit through the bars of cages designed for small creatures, its LEGS will.
  10. While fruit flies don’t stick to tape, preying mantis legs DO!
  11. This is when your entire family will tell you that you should have stuck the tape to the inside of the cage grill. Even though you have realized it too and, of course, the knowledge does you absolutely no good at this stage of the educational process.
  12. You can safely free a preying mantis from packing tape by:
    1. carefully peeling the tape back until the leg can be reached and then
    2. applying a drop of vegetable oil to the taped leg (I figured this one out all by myself 🙂 ).
  13. Preying mantises learn not to step on packing tape (at least they never got stuck a second time)!
  14. And finally, There is no such thing as a “free” pet!
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5 Comments
  1. Thanks for the information. I am so sorry you lost two babies in the process though 😦 We are anxiously waiting for our babies to hatch, and plan to keep one or two, though I have heard that they will eat each other. I had never heard of flightless fruit flies, so that’s good to know!! 🙂

  2. Spookygirl,

    I meant to get back to you sooner than this but got caught up in some drama. You’re very welcome for the information and I hope with it, you have better luck than I did.

    As far as cannibalism goes, yes, they will eat each other – especially if they are hungry, but just keeping them fed is no guarantee. If you plan on keeping more than one, you might want to look at getting a second cage to keep them separated (I like this one – it’s reasonably inexpensive, collapsible for storage when you’re without insects, seems roomy enough and has a mesh small enough to keep the food from escaping).

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