My little Walter is a bug kid. He’s never met a bug he didn’t like or wasn’t willing to touch. Butterflies, beetles, ants, spiders, rolly-pollies, inchworms, caterpillars and especially CICADAS.
What is a cicada, you ask? Well let me tell you since this is now a subject on which I am very well educated.
They are not locusts. They do not eat crops. They are not a biblical plague. They do not sting or bite or seem to really care if they get eaten. (Walter doesn’t eat them, but the birds do)
They DO have red eyes (at least the kind here in the midwest – in Asia there are prettier ones). Some of them do appear periodically – once every 13 years or once every 17 years. Others appear annually or biannually so don’t worry, we’ll never have a summer without at least a few. Cicadas do sing their little hearts out all day everyday looking for love. And if you’ve never had your sanity threatened by the deafening screeching/ticking sounds of thousands of cicadas singing all at once then you really haven’t lived.
Also! When they come up out of the ground at the beginning of the summer they crawl right out of their skins. Then they very generously leave the carapaces (best word ever) all over the place for little boys to find and collect. Like a super creepy easter egg hunt that lasts for three months. (We have six mason jars full of exoskeletons in the garage. Six.)
But the best thing about cicadas is how much Walter loves them. Somehow they speak to his nurturing little boy soul. When he catches one he wants to pet it like a kitten and tell it how good and nice it is. (Personally? I think the true appeal is the cicadas’ poetic metamorphosis in returning to the light aboveground. They strip off their skins – their old selves – to reveal that there were wings and the capacity to fly inside them all along! It’s exciting! It’s beautiful! It’s probably not why Walter loves them.)
But whatever the reason, he has bonded with them. He has been a cicada for Halloween, he has a cicada tote bag for school, he has all the cicada books available for sale on amazon, he has a special cicada beanie baby, he has a display cicada inside a glass cube, those six mason jars full of shells, a tee shirt, art on the wall… I even have a brass cicada necklace that he gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago. It’s quite a statement piece. And naturally over the years I’ve drawn dozens and dozens of pictures of cicadas at his request. Here’s one I did today. It’s a cicada portrait of the two of us.
My sweet boy is graduating from preschool this week and I know his cicada-obsession is gradually waning. I’m sure he’ll always have a soft spot for bugs and I know that in the coming years he’ll have lots of other exciting big boy interests. But nothing can really compare with the ardor of a little child who has been enchanted by some small magic invisible to the rest of us. Seeing the world through Walter’s eyes has brought me so much creepy crawly joy.
So keep singing your song, cicadas and Cicada Boy! You are all miracles to me.