Remembering boys, bugs, critters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 14, 2015

aWhen my grandsons were six and eight years old, they paid my mother a visit at her home in Panama City, Fla. She lived across the street from a lake—a place the boys loved to visit. They brought along their bug zoos.

I heard them talking in the living room when I awakened the next morning. They were sitting on my mother’s couch with their bug zoos beside them. After they gave me good morning hugs, the older said his brother had dropped one of his crabs. “It got away,” he added. Uh oh, I thought, remembering my mother cautioning them to keep the crabs they had captured out of her living room. Their granddaddy had taken them to the pier where they set out a crab trap. Then they started digging for the little crabs they saw scurrying in damp sand close to the water. Each of them had half a dozen when they zipped through the front door and plopped their bug zoos on the couch. When Mother saw the wet sand filtering through the bottom of the crabs’ prison, she issued her order and directed the boys to her back porch. She assigned a parking place for the bug zoos and repeated her command: “Keep those crabs out of my living room.”

Well, boys will be boys. When you are six and eight, it is hard to remember everything. During that visit, the bug zoos showed up in the living room again once or twice. That early morning they had another lapse of memory as they took their crabs to the couch to admire them again.

The youngest took a flashlight I handed him, fell to the floor in front of the couch, curled into a little ball, turned sideways, raised the flounce blocking his view, and searched for the crab. He did not see it.

I knew my mother would not rest until we found that crab. I decided not to tell her, hoping it would turn up soon. The boys’ lips were sealed. The bug zoos sat at the assigned place on the porch when she got up. I was surprised a few hours later when the youngest searched under the couch with the flashlight again. “What are you doing?” Mother asked. “Just looking,” he replied innocently. “Yeah, he’s just looking,” his brother echoed. Fortunately, my mother had a distraction before she had time to ask them what they were looking for. In a flash, they begged their granddaddy to take them to check the crab trap. While Mother was in the kitchen, I saw the lost crab edging its way across the carpeted hallway. I picked it up with a tissue and deposited it in a bug zoo.

We convinced the boys to release all but one crab each. On the way home, the dog pounced on one, causing its demise. The other turned up dead in its bug zoo.

It was months before Mother learned about the lost crab.