Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hey Little Ant

I saw this book on several blogs and decided to get it in the library. I only got to read it once, but I kept thinking about it since. In the book there is a dialog between the boy that is about to squish an ant and that ant. The book doesn’t say what the boy will do and leaves the answer to the reader. After that first reading Anna said that the boy should let an ant go. But obviously she has been reading and thinking about this book on her own, because suddenly we had the following dialog on the way to school.

Anna: During recess I want to hunt for ants. Squishing ants is fun.

Me (shocked): Why do you think it’s fun?

Anna: That’s what the boy in the book said. And his mama said that ants steal our picnic food. Ants are bad. We should kill them.

Me: When we go out to their home and picnic there, we need to protect our food, because it’s best if they eat what they are supposed to eat – dead insects or eggs of other bugs. If ants or other bugs come to our house, we get rid of them. But squishing them doesn’t work – we try to get them to move out. Killing for fun is a very bad thing.

Anna: But we kill for food, because killing for food is OK. I would like to go hunting with R (our neighbor who is a hunter) when I am older. I liked venison, and it comes from a deer.

I was amused with how she interpreted the lesson of the book. Why, after all, the boy should listen to that tiny annoying pest? His own mommy told him that ants are fair game. I don’t think that the author intended that, but Anna’s reasoning was not faulty for a three year old.

How do you treat bugs around you? Do you explain the difference between bad or good insects? Or is it, “Don’t ask don’t tell” in your house? And if your children read Hey, Little Ant, what did they think of it?


Christy said...

We haven't read this book yet.

I'm not a fan of squishing bugs. We try to relocate bugs or leave them alone.

I bet my kids would interpret the book exactly the same way Anna did.

Jennifer @ The Toy Box Years said...

Wow!!! She's so smart!!!

S said...

Since we are vegetarians, killing animals is something my kids think is wrong. Not because we ever taught them that, but they drew that conclusion on their own. Most bugs that get into the house are moved outside. Ants are an exception. We have a very bad ant problem in this area. We work to kill entire colonies from around our house and the kids know it. When out and about, we leave them alone, but any anthills around the house are fair game.

Fairion said...

We have had a very similar conversation with similar guidelines at our house. In the house it is ok to kill a bug if must be (although it is better to relocate them) but outside we are in their home and must respect them. They are creatures too and all life is good. We only kill when necessary, like for food because if we did not have food we would not be alive.

Joyful Learner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Interesting. I just read Ugh! A Bug by Mary Bono, that goes even further, and suggests we should study bugs, without jarring them. I've got mixed feelings.

We certainly kill spiders in our house. But, I've always been very tenderhearted, and I don't like to see them suffer - so it's quick kills :) and only when necessary.

That's my husband's general rule for hunting, too. He hunts for food, not trophies, and that's what we'll teach the children.

I wouldn't want the kids out burning bugs with magnifying glasses, or that kind of thing, but I don't want them revering them, either.

Debbie said...

When bugs are out side, we observe and let them go on their way, or stay like the spiders all last Autumn.

If they are in the house, we wisk them away as quickly as we can. If we can do it without harming them then they go back out side.

Selena has done both caught and released bugs in our home, and has ended up killing them. She has never said anything one way or the other about her feelings towards them.

We haven't had the discussion of hunting, she has only observed fishing once. She understands that her meat comes from cows, pigs, or chickens and it doesn't seem to bother her. I suppose my growing up on a farm, these things are just the norm, so we've made no huge deal out of it.

Aging Mommy said...

Not read the book but as I don't want my daughter to grow up with a fear of bugs (just a healthy respect for the ones that you need to watch out for) I do not talk to her about killing them, rather I just let her watch and enjoy them, which she does. Although she appears to have an innate fear of spiders and if she sees one on the house will shout for me to come and get rid of it!

Pathfinder Mom said...

We haven't read this book. In general, we try to observe bugs and leave them on their own. Ants in the house, they get killed. We had a serious battle with them this spring and it was awful. Way too much work to get them out.

Julie said...

We haven't read the book but now I'm curious what my kids would say. We do kill bugs if they're in our house - flies, mosquitoes, spiders. We relocate lady bugs, or sometimes just leave them alone in the house. Outside, though, we don't kill bugs generally. We do destroy fire ant hills though. They're too dangerous, in my mind, to leave alone.

My kids haven't made the clear connection between food and animals yet. We have been eating ground venison instead of beef for months thanks to a friend, but the kids just call it "meat".

Ticia said...

Hmmmm, we haven't read that book, and I'm thinking given my kids, it might not be good, because they might pull the killing bugs is fun out of it too.
In the house bugs are okay to kill, but I tend to try and relocate them out of the house (except ants and scorpions, scorpions are horrible creatures that God never should have created and I don't like them).
Outside of the house we mostly watch and leave alone, with the exception of fire ants, those we kill because they bite. My kids could happily spend hours observing and playing with roly polies.

Joyful Learner said...

If you're interested, there's a bug zapper ( not sure what it's called) but it picks up bugs and you can relocate them. I got it after I saw a friend use it. It's great if you don't want to touch them nor kill them.

Curious City said...

Great conversation-- I posted it to the HEY,LITTLE ANT website:

MaryAnne said...

I only kill mosquitoes, because they spread disease. I would kill a poisonous spider, too, but luckily haven't had to deal with that so far. Other bugs I put outside. I guess my pacifism is pretty far-reaching... Mike kills ants, etc, and Emma did at one point decide that killing ants was fun. She seems to have grown out of it, now.