Oh, and bugs.
She LOVES bugs.
MOMMY IT'S A BUG!!!!
This whole thing is potentially my fault. Many months ago, Audrey earned a prize at daycare for helping to clean up, and at the time she was too young to choose her own prize from the bin so I picked a plastic green cockroach for her. I thought the interesting shape of it, with its long spindly legs, would please her. And please her it did.
For a while, the plastic cockroach was all the bug she needed. She quickly learned how to say "bug" with perfect clarity, and she would carry the cockroach around and make everyone kiss it. She would put it up to the characters on the TV screen and make kissing sounds. She loved that f***ing cockroach and assumed everyone else felt the same way about it.
... and then she discovered real, living bugs.
Here is how Audrey handles her love of bugs:
Her kill count is in the double digits
I think most people who attended middle school at some point in their lives have read the book Of Mice and Men. If you haven't, or if it's been a minute or two since middle school, let me refresh you: One of the characters, a guy named Lennie, is mentally impaired. You might even say that his brain function is similar to that of ... a toddler. And Lennie is a very large guy. And he loves small, soft animals like rabbits.
And he always kills them by petting them and cuddling them too hard.
They're just so soft and squishable!
Audrey has Lennie'd so many bugs.
It always happens the same way: she finds a bug and gets excited about it. "Bug! Bug! I see a bug!!!" She chases it down and squats over it, watching it walk around.
And then she tries to touch it.
I tell her not to, over and over and over again. "Don't touch the bug. Just look at the bug." And she resists, but then a second later she tries to touch it again. And I remind her not to touch the bug.
But she'll never be content to merely look at a bug -- her desire to cuddle the bug is too strong. She will always be overpowered by her urge to love the bug, to hold it and kiss it like her plastic cockroach ... and so she will poke it until it dies.
At this point, I'd say she's killed roughly 12-15 bugs that I was a personal witness to.
She just wanted to love the bugs :-(
She believes that bugs share her interests
It is well established that very young children lack empathy. Their whole world is their own brain, and they simply cannot conceive of the idea that other people/creatures might have their own goals, desires, and motivations.
This means that I get a binkie shoved in my mouth many times a day, because Audrey loves binkies so therefore Mommy must also love binkies.
And it means that bugs love bubbles, because Audrey loves bubbles and why would bugs feel any differently about it? Bubbles are great!
The bugs might disagree with this, however.
This past weekend, Audrey and I spent a LOT of time out on the back patio. It was hot, so we had the wading pool out there with a big umbrella and sidewalk chalk and some fancy new bubble guns.
Bubble guns: for when you want lots of bubbles but lack the coordination to blow them with your mouth.
We were having a grand old time blowing bubbles all over the place through the battery-powered bubble guns when all of a sudden, a little bug landed on my leg, blown in on the wind. I let Audrey know immediately, since I knew she would be THRILLED that a bug had shown up to play bubbles with us.
I was right! She WAS thrilled!!
... so thrilled that she put her bubble gun two inches away from the bug and unleashed a storm of 30-40 bubbles directly at his little bug body. I told her that bugs maybe don't like bubbles, but she rejected my reality. "Bubbles for bug!" she informed me, reloading the bubble gun for another assault.
The second round of bubbles was powerful enough to knock the bug off my leg and into the wading pool. I immediately fished him out and held him on my finger as Audrey reloaded her gun for one more volley.
"BUBBLES FOR BUG!"
The third round of bubbles killed the bug.
The fourth round of bubbles, intended to reanimate him, was unsuccessful.
Y'all should have tried using bubbles to bring him to life.
As she loaded up for the fifth round of bubbles, I flicked the bug corpse off into the grass and told Audrey that the bug had decided to fly home. She nodded and spent the next five minutes repeating "bye bye bug!" while shooting more and more bubbles toward the spot in the grass where she assumed the bug lived.
RIP little bug. I guess you didn't really like bubbles after all. I don't blame you.
"Just look at the bug with your eyes" was not a good thing to say
Also this past weekend, Audrey and I went on a little nature walk in our neighborhood. We saw a bunch of birds, TWO different neighborhood dogs, and ... bugs. Bugs and bugs and bugs.
There was big ol' potato bug walking around our front porch. And then some ants in the driveway. And then we walked over to the leasing office, which has a lovely manicured flower garden out front, and saw flies and bees and spiders.
As usual, she wanted to touch every bug she saw. And as usual, I prevented her as best I could.
There was a spider in a web strung between two flower pots by the leasing office, so I picked Audrey up and brought her close so she could see it. "Look at the spider!" I told her, and she shrieked "spider! spider! spider!!!" while reaching for it.
She disconnected one whole side of the web, causing it to deflate and drift back over to one of the flower pots. Sorry, spider.
I put her down and told her to come away, because we had already done enough damage to the poor spider's way of life. But she kept reaching for it, trying to touch it. So I uttered the words I would immediately come to regret: "Do NOT touch the spider. Just look at it. With your eyes."
And she misunderstood. And tried to touch the spider. WITH HER EYES.
Now, I am not someone who is crippled with arachnophobia ... but nor am I the world's biggest fan of spiders. I'm cool with looking at spiders, and killing the ones that get inside the house without having to call A Man to take care of it.
But I am not cool with touching them with my eyeballs.
Audrey, you're a freak.
Stop killing bugs all the time. Jesus. You're gonna get a reputation.