08 May 2014

~ of ants and reconciliation ~

...otherwise known as the day a prolific ant infestation was a great blessing!

You know what?

Sometimes cousins are great buddies.

Other times?

Well, let's just say that other times the mix of personalities makes getting along difficult. Especially when each child is the youngest sibling and both have learned very well the lesson that sometimes you have to push back to get your way.

They were having a hard time getting along the other day... and I had a long to-do list to accomplish, a talk at a seminar to prepare, and my long-suffering reserve tanks were on empty as I'd not been getting enough sleep due to sick kids not sleeping well. It really was one of those days where I was seriously considering finding out if I could enroll both girls in the full day K4 program for the remainder of the school year just so I didn't pull my hair out.

Then they started playing with ants.

We see many ants in our kitchen - and as long as they stay out of the food, they really don't bother me. 

It ain't nothing like it was in Niger. Most times, we had one or the other of two kinds of ant. Little red ones that are similar to fire ants. Or big black ants that kind of looked like carpenter ants except they bit and when they bit, it hurt as badly as a bee sting. Occasionally, we'd also see sugar ants (our local friends ate those), but other than the fact that they were so big certain of our children would freak out when they saw them, they weren't such a big deal.

He who runs from the white ant may stumble upon the stinging ant.
~ Hausa proverb ~

Here, however, ants aren't anything more than an annoyance.

And now, they qualify as entertainment as well.

M&M and her cousin had already been having a bad week. One girl wanted whatever toy it was that the other was playing with. They taunted each other over what was in their lunch boxes. They tattled nonstop. Almost constant hollers of "That's not fair!" or "I'm just not going to play with you any more if you won't do it my way!" echoed throughout the house. I was almost ready to violate my rule of allowing littles to work out their own problems and put them both down for a nap, when all of a sudden, M&M started screaming about the ants crawling around on the kitchen floor.

Her cousin joined her. Pretty soon they were constructing mazes to see if the ants could get out. Then they built a whole city out of legos for the ants to inhabit. Jonathan has an "insect habitat" to start collecting bugs for his 4th grade bug collection next year. The girls found that, brought the small vacuum insect catcher out and started collecting ants with it and placing those ants in Jon's habitat. They started looking under the counters, on the counters, in the sink, crawling up the wall, under the dishrag. Soon, they'd collected several ants and deposited them into Jonathan's "habitat."

And they were having a blast. All of the chairs were scooted out, away from the table. The floor really needed a sweeping, but that was part of what was attracting those critters. They sat on the floor, underneath the table - squealing, laughing, screaming, digging out the "Gladware" and concocting ant traps - for literally 2.5 hours, without a single argument.

I was surprised...

Except I shouldn't have been.

At least on that day, they discovered and put into practice some pretty amazing wisdom!

It is mind boggling (though it shouldn't be) how a common goal often allows us to put aside our differences, our arguments, or irritations and work together to achieve what neither would have accomplished on our own.... how even five year olds stop ugly words without any mama/auntie-prompting once discovering that no one likes to help ugly word spouters... how the two of them, together, discovered they could catch together many more ants than either did by themselves... how there's so much fun to be had if we simply stop thinking about self and what we want most and instead start really looking at and listening to others to help them achieve their goals and dreams.

"The biting fly has no one to come to his aid in trouble."
(African proverb)

"If you want to go fast - go alone. if you want to go far - go together."
(Another African proverb)

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