On our trip home from Austin, Texas, we stopped at a rest stop and Dani and I went in together to use the facilities. We soon found we were not alone. A big, scary looking bug was laying on its back in the middle of the floor, slowly but steadily shaking its legs and writhing its body, obviously trying to get off its back.
Now when I say this bug was big and scary - I’m not just being a silly ol’ girl who is afraid of bugs. Ok, I am, but this bug was freaking huge! It was almost as big as my palm, easy, and its legs were hairy, thick, and meaty. This was a cat.
Dani was the first to see it and yelped out a predictable, “ewww, a big bug!”
“Oh, it's ok, it can’t hurt you,” the redundant and oft repeated phrase was already halfway out of my mouth before I actually saw the size of this new friend. I thought to myself, “wow, that bug might actually hurt us.”
I tried to contain my irrational fears as I found the cleanest stall for Dani and then stood guard as she did her business. I couldn’t help but stare at poor Beetlejuice, writhing helplessly a foot or so away.
“Awww, the poor bug can’t get up off his back. He’s stuck.”
“Awwww!” cried Dani, her caring heart already swelling, “maybe I can turn him over when I come out.”
“I don’t know, Dani, this is a pretty big bug.”
“Well... maybe I can use my shoe,” she creatively suggested.
“Ok,” I said in my best convinced voice, although I was anything but convinced.
When Dani was finished, we switched positions. As I did my business, I listened for any sounds outside the stall. I kept waiting to hear the triumphant, “Momma, I did it!” But that phrase never came. When I walked out to join the party, Dani’s expression balanced between terror and pity.
“Maybe I can do it if you hold my hand,” she said timidly.
“Ok,” I said encouragingly.
There we were, at one in the morning, my five-year-old daughter and I, holding hands in the middle of an abandoned rest stop bathroom, trying our best to help the scariest bug we had ever seen. And then, as Dani stretched out her toe as far as she could to try and push the bug off his back, three things happened in rapid succession:
1) We both heard a small but distinct crunching sound;
2) The bug’s large, meaty legs wrapped around the toe of Dani’s shoe; and
3) We both started screaming and ran like hell out of that rest stop bathroom.
As we scurried through the labyrinth, Dani a few paces ahead of me, I looked back to see if our efforts had at least not been in vain. But alas, the bug was still on its back as I rounded the corner. Our altruistic efforts at bug saving had been foiled by our irrational fear of big, scary bugs. I did actually think about going back and trying again, but the echo of that crunching sound kept me running until we were outside. If Dani had any thoughts of going back, she kept them to herself.
It just goes to show that anytime is a good time to learn a lesson, even at one in the morning in a deserted rest stop bathroom. Given the usual bouts of selfishness that any five-year-old is prone to exhibit (especially on vacation with family giving her everything she wants), I was proud at the amount of heart Dani showed the bug. We didn’t rescue that bug, but we did our best. Sometimes, it really is the thought that counts. I’m proud of both of us. And now I’m going to bed.
Challenge: Would you help something or someone, even if you were scared of them?
***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***