Sunday, May 23, 2010

Revenge of the Praying Mantis

There is another side to my persona; the inner teen/rebel who yearns to break the odd little rule. Just because. The good mother I try to personify hides this other side, enforcing the rules by way of lengthy lectures (ever-loved by my kids) and leading by example. Sayings like ‘rules are made for a reason’ often grate on my nerves, but ‘rules are meant to broken’ makes up for it. However, praying mantises and scorpions quickly changed my attitude toward those ‘rules that are made for a reason’.

The rules in the schoolyard and in the workplace are often ‘meant to be broken’, and sometimes, by matter of convenience, they often are. The rules spelled out by landlords; well, that’s a different story. Don’t hang this, don’t hang that. No noise after such-and-such time (personally, I love that one). No dogs allowed (not a favourite).

As ‘renters’ ourselves, and with two kids in our back pocket, homelessness is not an option. Therefore, we follow the rules and stick to companions such as one fish, and one cat; the rules permit their residency.

I would give ANYTHING to smuggle in a non-barking, non-shedding, non-peeing teeny tiny dog that no one could POSSIBLY ever notice. But for silly reasons like setting a good example and oh, say, the other silly reason such as avoiding eviction, we refrain from smuggling anyone from the canine persuasion.

My children learned to negotiate early in life; “If we can’t have a dog, can we have a ….” Of course, nothing simple like a hamster was ever entertained. As my darling boys approach the pre-teen/teenage years, their want for the exotic - tarantulas, scorpions, and weird bugs only found on the vines in the Amazon – increases daily. Dreams of fame and notoriety on the playground fuel their desire. Even better - “When my fish dies can I get a squid?”

A trip to the local ‘zoo’ was supposed to be a family bonding experience. If I had thought long and hard about it, I would have steered clear of the place. Geared for all ages (but not the squeamish), the aptly named “Bug Zoo” showcases critters only found in jungles afar. Of course, signs posted at perfect 4-5 foot viewing height advertised various little creatures FOR SALE; namely, of course, scorpions and praying mantises. Nothing tame like ants or dew worms. “Look Mom, they are much cheaper here than at the pet store!” My mind scurried like cockroaches at the bottom of the cage; how did the kid know the prices at the pet store?

Our house later became a beehive of activity- excitement, research and planning were forefront. Names were lovingly chosen. As the only parent not ‘in’ to the whole thing, I tried everything to diffuse the excitement, being the troll that I am. I rant that with a time-consuming, MOST demanding cat, I would NOT be catering to a scorpion/praying-mantis/whatever. I argued that I can barely afford to feed my family, never mind a ‘bug’. I plead for their lives; no creature is worth the deadly risk (even though I threaten their lives daily at the sight of dishes still in the drier). I came up with every imaginable reason of WHY only trained professionals should handle these creatures. But common knowledge prevailed; as a mother, I know absolutely nothing.

I am not afraid of these caged darlings, but I just felt that my kids (preteen) were not responsible enough, yet, to handle such exotic species. Whatever happened to simple ant farms?

In the middle of the excitement (with the piggy bank smashed and pennies duly counted), my husband had a flash of brilliance (well, I thought it was brilliant). He realized he better check the tenancy act regarding exotic pets. The darling landlord, who many love to hate, listed all the ‘specimens’ not allowed: tarantulas, scorpions, praying mantises. And, much to my glee, here’s why; escapees could kill the neighbours; uncontrollable population growth of said escapees, which would lead to costly extermination; chirping crickets, often escapees themselves avoiding being a menu option, keep the neighbours awake.

So that settled that. No exotic pets.

As I (still) breathe a sigh of relief, I truly believe I am likely the ONLY tenant wanting to smooch the landlord in gratitude. Our lives have been saved.

My heart went out to the boys as I broke the news. Their tears washed away their hopes that had risen higher than any ant hill. But they slowly resigned to the fact that this is the way of the renter’s life; landlords and rules.

I have come to love rules, my landlord and quite possibly the cat, just a little more.


  1. Thanks for sharing, and I can relate with that! Manda always wanted a snake.
    Thanks for the smile!

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  3. Alice V said...
    Congratulations on your new blog, Lisa. My god son loves the bug zoo and is the owner of a corn snake. The rules of the house are, the snake stays in his room and is only displayed if guests ask. I asked once, just to prove I'm a good god-mom. I much prefer the cats : )

    May 27, 2010 9:34 AM

  4. Lisa, I loved this blog...tooo funny!
    And...if you're stuck with fish, there's some pretty exotic types...pirannas for instance??

  5. Your kids would have loved growing up with my dad. He was a naturalist and photographer, and we had our own house and yard so we could do whatever we (or he) wanted. Yes, that included snakes, scorpions, and a vicious little creature called an ant-lion. The bonus to all this was that no insect or reptile scared me. When little boys found garter snakes and came running up to the little girls yelling, "Snake, snake!" and all the other little girls scattered in fear, I always eagerly said, "Oh fun, can I hold it?" It definitely took the wind out of those little boys' sails.

  6. Thank you everyone for commenting on my blog! Alice, you proved your worthiness in god-mommy-hood; brave for asking about the snake. Susan, your dad sounds like a fantastic man; the memories you have are priceless. Mimi, the piranhas have been entertained; feeding them too costly. Janelle, I forgot about the snake and Amanda! It's all coming back. Thank you all, again. Lisa