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Archive for the ‘Documentaries’ Category

Our 5yo is obsessed with cats.

When my husband and I got married, I almost had a NO-pets clause put into our vows.

Somehow, having children obsessed with animals is weakening my resolve.

At the moment, they still have to settle for playing cats, kittens and Magic-Cat all…day…long.

I’ve been told that most unschooling households include pets.

I still don’t know if I am capable of being happy in a house with pets.

But, I am

trying

to

imagine

it.

Yesterday, a cat showed up in our backyard and then wandered into the house. How do I stop imagining fleas every time I sit on the rug?

She named it Rosalee. It only stayed for a half hour or so, but they were so happy.

I felt a panic rise up in me every time it came close and I stared it down, because I remember hearing on one of the dozens of cat documentaries we’ve watched that cats will approach people who don’t pay attention to it and avoid people who are too friendly or stare.

I stared hard.

They absolutely insist that I watch these Magic-Cat shows. And every time I do, my heart softens and I start imaging our life with a cat.

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Today we watched the space shuttle get a piggyback ride from a jumbo jet. The girls played “wild cats” in the park and we had a picnic of Surfer Specials (bean burritos and orange bang and horchata) with our friends while we waited to see the space shuttle fly directly overhead. Had we known the exact route, we would have gone out to the end of the pier so that we would have possibly had a better (from the side) angle, but it was pretty incredible to have it fly right over us. The photo below was taken by my dad (the girls’ grandpa).

After lunch and seeing the space shuttle in the air for the very last time ever, we hung out in the courtyard at home and took turns on the swing. We took a trip to the grocery store and when Daddy came home we went out to dinner for fish and chips, tacos, lemonade and a jalapeño margarita (for Mama).

We tried to watch Jimmy Neutron, but the girls and Flower and Daisy (their stuffed animal cats who were covering their eyes too) found the chicken-headed alien space ships too scary, so we finished off the day watching a cool documentary on evolution (Evolution: Things You Need To Know, BBC).

As our favorite Winne the Pooh book says, “what a wonderful day its been. Tomorrow, let’s do it all again!” Except maybe, I want to do different wonderful stuff.

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For Christmas, our 5yo received an ant farm. Its one of those classic kelly green rectangular framed pieces with the flat farm scene smashed in between the plastic windows. It took us a little while, but we finally ordered those ants. Its pretty awesome to wake up hearing our daughter exclaim from her room that she’s going to get up and see what her ants have been doing. She counts them in her collection of pets. “5 caterpillars, 23 ladybugs, and a lot of ants.”

The day they arrived, I had just pulled the car up to our driveway when the mailman zoomed to a halt right in front of us. He jumped out and ran up to my driver-side window and motioned for me to stay put. Out of breath, he explained that he had a package for us. It was much earlier than our mail is normally delivered so I thought it must be one of those special a.m. deliveries. It wasn’t. With wide eyes he gave the reason for not waiting to deliver it until later, “it says ‘live creatures’ on it.”

We spent the afternoon reading and re-reading the directions, letting the ants calm down in the fridge, filling the farm with white sand and a bit of water and adding a couple crumbs of bread. After a while we were ready to put the ants in their new home. Since then, they have been steadily digging their tunnels.

That night, while we had guests over, someone pulled off one of the little caps on the side tunnels. A single ant escaped and you would have thought a venomous alien tarantula was loose. “Watch out! Everyone back! Get away from the table! Aaaaahhh!!” Okay, I admit, it was mostly me freaking out. And, I’m pretty sure it is my fault that the kids were at all concerned. But, you should have seen all the warnings on the packages that: “THESE ANTS WILL BITE!!” (for yet another explanation for why we have a “respect” for biting ants see this post from our other blog).

As if I wasn’t already at my max ant-absorption point, the other night we watched a documentary about ants. It was one of those documentaries where you knew that most of it was staged and that the story was mostly, if not entirely, fiction. What I liked about this documentary is that it presented ants in a different light than every other way I’ve ever heard anyone talk about ants before in my entire life.

In the past it was, “go to the ant you sluggard, consider its ways and be wise” or something super positive about their cooperation (always in opposition to our human ability to do the same) “compared with ants we are hellacious at cooperating” (see this post for that full quote).

In addition to being fascinating, I’ve also found watching ants to be a little depressing. To be honest, especially now that I am a mom, I feel like I am moving around about as much as they are. Maybe I am not lifting 100 times my own body weight, but I’m pretty sure my physical exhaustion at the end of many days rivals those tiny creatures. So, its not that I am feeling inadequate or a sluggardly.  I think that what depresses me is the level of self-sacrifice, the martyrdom and the individual meaninglessness. The message of no individual ant matters…not their desires, not their needs, not their lives in comparison to the future of the colony and the queen is drilled home every time I watch ants (and this happens to be what the documentary focused on as well). It also confuses me when people hold ants up as creatures to be emulated. When I look past the cooperation that’s going on, I think their lives look like rather miserable lives for a human being to strive toward.

The documentary magnified ants and used enough human terms to make me feel like I was in their world. When the workers slowly killed off rival queens by starving and then dismembering them one by one, I cringed and looked away. When they fed them to their own larvae I gagged. Thank goodness all our girls had fallen asleep by this point.

As we put the kids in their beds I kept imagining myself as a giant-headed nurse-ant caring for the eggs, larvae and pupae. When I crunched my baby carrots and hummus, somehow still immersed in an imaginary ant world, I felt like a psychopath. It took me a while to get to sleep and of course I had weird insect ridden dreams.

This morning I overheard this conversation from the playroom,

5yo: “You can’t be a princess! You have to be a worker.”

3yo: “I’m not going to be a worker ant.”

5yo: “Then we can’t play ants!”

And that is fine with me.

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