Creeped out by Creepy Crawlies

I love the great outdoors. The blue skies, the sweeping wheat fields, my yard filled with animal scat. (Damn moose think my carefully mowed slightly shaggy grass is their personal litterbox.)

There isn't much I don't love about the outdoors. I don't even mind the bugs. Except for hornets, wasps, bees and horseflies. Then you will see me shriek like a school girl and use my children as a personal shield as I run for shelter. Better them than me. They're younger. They'll recover faster.

I jest. Though not about being scared of bugs that are capable of imparting great pain. But most creepy crawlies don't even register on my radar. Not even the pesky mosquito. It's all part and parcel of enjoying nature's bounty on the wrong side of the window pane.

When I was little, I use to collect grasshoppers and catepillars and tadpoles and what ever else I could get my dirty little paws on. I'd find old jam jars and poke holes in the lid and then watch my little captives starve to death, essentially. I was such a thoughtful child.

Oneday, I encountered the most beautiful insect. It was a fuzzy black and yellow caterpillar. I marveled at how soft and fuzzy it was and imagined what a beautiful butterfly it would morph into. I imagined it would have the wing span of a dragon and feather's of a beautiful peacock.

I was delusional even at a young age.

I hurriedly found an old plastic ice cream bucket, grabbed a few twigs, a couple of fistfuls of grass and a few leaves and set off to imprison collect the fuzzy caterpillar of my dreams.

At first, I only found one. But with the persistence of an idiot determination of a small child, I had soon managed to find almost a dozen.

I had a colony! I played in my bucket of worms, er, fuzzy caterpillars all day. My mom had to threaten to squish them all to get me to come in for supper. Immediately after supper I rushed back to my bucket to play with my new friends. It was childhood heaven. I had named them all, and constructed a whole village in my head, assigning each fuzzy friend it's own personality, job and family.

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Oh, my pretty friends. How you betrayed me.

I reluctantly went to bed and carefully left my friends perched in their bucket, waiting to be reunited upon my morning return. Only, there was no joyful reunion. The wind knocked over my bucket, scattering my town and our family dog ate most of my town's people.

But I had other problems other than the complete devastation of Tanis Town. I was diseased. Apparently, my darling colony were toxic to touch for hours upon hours at a time. Who knew that letting my furry little friends crawl up and down my arms was a bad thing?

When I woke up the next morning, my hands felt funny. I couldn't really bend my fingers. I opened my eyes to look at my hands and screamed! My hands were swollen and covered with blisters. All over. In between my fingers, up my fingers, the palms of my hands, the backs of my hands and up my arms.

I looked like I had the plague. And oh, how it itched. It took more than a week to gain the use of my hands again without popping a pus filled blister or wanting to scratch my skin off to the bone. I was devastated. My little furry friends turned on me. I banished all love of caterpillars from my heart from that day forth and vowed that the only good caterpillar was a squished caterpillar.

Decades later, I still feel that way. I avoid anything long and tubular (just ask my husband. Heh.) I hate worms and caterpillars with the burning rage of an eight year old who was called "Worm Girl" by her older brother for weeks.

This of course, sucks, since I live out in a rural, heavily treed area. It's a bountiful forest for the fuzzy creatures and they rain from the heavens (okay, the leaves) if you shake a tree or brush past a branch.

Meaning I squeal like a pansy ass A LOT in the summer months. My kids know this and take great delight in terrorizing me by holding the fuzzy creatures under my nose. My husband scoffs when I tell him, EMPHATICALLY, that I am allergic to those critters and to keep them the heck away from me.

Yesterday, we spent the day outside worshipping Boo and his fabulous paternal talents. (RE: He spent the day chopping wood while cracking the whip to get the kids to mow the lawn. I sat on our pretty deck with a lemonade in hand and supervised.)

When everybody came in for the fabulous supper I had made (what? It still counts if I drove in, picked the pizza up, took it out of the box and served it to everyone) when my daughter started to scratch her head at the table.

"What? Are you confused by something?" I inquired while her brother started teasing her that she must have cooties.

"No," she shook her head and began eating her pizza. It wasn't long before she was back to scratching her head.

"Is something wrong?" her father asked.

"No." She scratched a few seconds more and then resumed eating.

Scratch, scratch.

Scratch, scratch.

Scratch, scratch.

Finally, after watching my daughter rip out her hair while the rest of us enjoyed our dinner, I put my pizza down and looked Fric in the eyes.

"What is the matter with you? Do you think you have lice? I told you not to share hats with the girls on your soccer team," I lectured as I leaned forward to peer in my daughter's hair.

She shook her head no and started to protest that she doesn't have nits, when we heard a sudden soft plop. And then another plop. And another.

Everyone looked down and reacted at the same time. Three little tent caterpillars fell from my daughter's head.

She screamed and started flipping her hair one way and then another to get all the creepy crawlies out of her hair.

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I screamed because my sworn enemy was being tossed from the soft locks of my precious daughter and if she didn't settle down, they could land in MY hair.

Boo laughed and continued to eat his pizza.

Frac, screeched with only the joy of a sibling whose head isn't under attack from the creepy crawlies. Eventually, we all settled down and order was restored to our dinner table. Not that her or I were hungry anymore.

Thankfully, there were no more creepy crawlies hiding in my daughter's scalp. The three little hanger-on-er's were lovingingly squished by my husband's thumb. My daughter had brushed her hair until it glistened. And I sat there reliving my own wormy nightmare from the past.

Just another typical Redneck family dinner.

Frac looked at his sister with an evil twinkle in his eye and then grinned.

"I always knew you had worms for brains, sis, but now I have proof."