English is a funny language. It took me a year to findout about the attractions of an Ant Farm SOLELY because I thought the Adults were speaking of an Aunt Farm; and since I had one Aunt Mary living nearby who did NOT seem inclined to be herded or farmed in any way, I figgered that left me out of the whole Aunt Farm equation. Well, it did.
But an Ant Farm: now THAT was another story.
I wasted two Xmases begging for such; but my wise parents (and Santa, who was clearly on their side) refused the notion of any live insect pets in the house (likely the Bunny Fiasco was still too fresh, if you catch my drift….), enclosed or not. There appeared to be too much prior correlation between ‘enclosed’ and ‘escaped’. Apparently.
So, also apparently, it was up to me to create a free DIY project on yet another Teen Babysitter Saturday.
Unlike most of my ideas – many involving fissionable materials – the raw ingredients were readily at hand.
From studying the comic book ad, ALL I needed was a clear plastic box or jar, soil, and ants. The latter of which existed ‘in the wild’ in our backyard, so the source materials were a ‘go’. As far as a ‘clear plastic box’ was concerned, I could think of nuttin’ better than Mom’s sheet cake box: a big clear plastic container that she never used.
“I’m going outside to play in the yard” ALWAYS worked with Teen Babysitters. It sounded (a) independent (b) safe (after all – what trouble could happen in one’s own backyard??) and (c) as though the endeavor required little if any management skills from a Responsible Adult – leaving Teen Babysitter happily ensconced in front of The Tube for a Twilight Zone marathon.
I knew just where a giant ant colony lived, too: near the big cactus under the back porch. A little crawling (admittedly thru mud, as it’d rained a few days earlier and not completely dried out yet) and a little digging (with Mom’s best wide kitchen serving spoon, which FAR surpassed the chintzy pink plastic shovel-and-pail set my parents and god apparently (irrationally) intended me to use) led to the plastic cake box being loaded with (a) dirt and (b) angry ants.
Now, I’m sure everyone has had opportunity to either on-purpose or accidentally dig into an ant hill. As you know, enraged ants race EVERYWHERE. They are worse than shoppers in Macy’s during the semi-annual lingerie sale. So in the space of like 10 seconds from initial dig to box fill, I became covered with an angry mob bent on using itchy little legs to avenge the abduction of friends and family.
That’s ok: I had gotten enough. The box was packed; the lid snapped on, and I was good to go with my Budget Indoor Ant Farm.
I only had a few leetle problems:
1. Sis the Tattler, having observed the entire process and whined futilely throughout for a participatory role, decided in favor of the sweetness of revenge and threatened to ‘tell’. It took a lot of Oreos to shut her up.
2. I had a few more ants than anticipated – mostly on me. To be truthful, ‘moving ant carpet’ comes to mind. A shower was DEFINITELY in order.
3. Take my advice: be sure the plastic lid SNAPS ALL THE WAY AROUND when creating your Ant Farm. They are small, they are clever, they are insidious and numerous, and they are PISSED. Likely 600 worker ants found a way to prop up a corner of the box lid whilst the remaining 6,000 escaped.
4. The perfect hiding place for anything live is NOT under Mom and Dad’s bed. Even though one’s OWN bed is clearly out of bounds due to regular Under Bed Cleaning and Inspection Crews.
The shower was a great success. The casual “I’m gonna take a shower after playing,” shout en route to the bathroom (covered with angry ants, so I didn’t wish to make a personal appearance for a non-shouted edict) elicited NO response from Teen Babysitter, who apparently thought me old enough to perform personal cleanup duties on my own.
Sis shed her clothes also and soon the bathroom was happily replete with ant carcasses, Mr. Bubbles, wet tissues tossed on the ceiling for the usual ‘mine can stick longer than yours’ experiment, and all manner of water EVERYWHERE. It was a virtual water park in a room. Teen Babysitter came in JUST as I was about to address the overflow problem being caused by literally thousands of ant bodies clogging the drain.
And (as usual) the grand finale to the joyful (and unjoyful) screams, plungering of drain, Sis crying out of sheer excitement, and gobs of ant-laden tissues threatening the toilet as well, was Mom returning home from helping Dad at the store.
I have no clue why parents have to ask “Just WHAT is going on in here??”
Isn’t it evident???
I was sent to bed early to “think about it”.
Unfortunately, one of the things I mused upon was whether or not I had actually completely snapped the lid onto Mom’s clear cake pan. A thought that solidified into disaster at around, oh, 3AMish when screams from the parents’ bedroom confirmed my suspicion (the remaining 6,000 or so ants had found their way into Mom and Dad’s bed and exacted revenge with scratchy little legs).
Needless to say, my Ant Farm was a flop. And my small business marketing plan of selling Budget Ant Farms at school for ½ the price of the comic book ad was also unfairly nixed.
But, I guess you could say it wasn’t a complete flop. Apparently not all 6K ants invaded Mom and Dad’s bed. A contingency army had devised an escape route from the rear and made it all the way into the closet; there to rebuild the Ant Farm in an old shoe.
Like the perennial Phoenix, Diane’s Budget Ant Farm was to arise again and again, until the Parental Units got wise to the neverending possibilities and arranged for a Bug Bomb to be exploded whilst we vacated the house for a day of shopping.
Sis and I BOTH cried about that one.
My parents are murderers.
(My Aunt Mary, however, thought it was a FINE idea. The Ant Farm, that is…)
PS: Yet another incongruity: the refusal of Parental Units to consider the next pet on my list: