Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bite me

One of the dads of L's classmates is a graduate student at the university down the road. He's from China originally; his daughter is bilingual. L adores her and loves to chat up this dad when he comes to retrieve his girl at the end of the day. Yesterday she showed him a cicada shell she had found on a tree. Is that what they're even really called? Or am I adopting my kid's invented language as if it's real?

The cicadas, they're a phenomenon in the DC area that I knew nothing about before moving here. If there are cicadas in upstate New York I never noticed them. Here they swarm, they damage trees, they molt and leave their original outsides in the scars they made in tree bark when they (or their mamas?) laid their eggs. And the kids in preschool love cicada season. They love collecting the shells from the playground's trees.

So yesterday, L showed our Chinese-born friend a cicada shell and he told her a story that when he was a kid, one of his jobs was to collect bug shells like that and bring them home. His family didn't have enough food sometimes, and eating bugs was a free source of protein. He laughed, according to L, and recalled to her how he'd help his mother fry them in a little oil.

He didn't, I think, ever describe them as delicious, but L failed to notice that omission.

Tonight L came home with a zippy bag filled with cicada shells and asked me to help her fry them. What would you have done? Would you fry them? I have to tell you: I didn't want to put them in my frying pan.

We had a science class on a paper plate. We looked at the cicadas' hairy noses and spiky legs and the amber domes where their eyes would have been. We scrutinized, and all the while, the lovely husband got out some more ordinary eats. L was distracted by some apple slices and we never fried her cicadas, but that paper plate is still sitting on the counter and there's always tomorrow. Eep.

PS- it does not help that this is one of L's favorite books. Double eep.

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