ANYway, we read this book called Pets in a Jar. It’s about caring for small animals in gallon jars (like the one I use for my weekly draw), and our favorite in the book was the praying mantis. It is also the scariest of the animals in that book.
Around this time, a friend of mine had an adult mantis in her classroom. It had laid two egg sacs (oothecas) and started to die… such is its life cycle. She gave us an ootheca in exchange for one of my gallon jars. We placed our jar on the dresser in Gabe’s room and waited. I think it was weeks later. I just happend to go into his room while he was sleeping (one of the many times) to check on him. I glanced over and noticed something strange… CRAP!! Mantises!!
I got sooo excited. I grabbed the jar and took it in the living room with me and sat it down on the table and watched for a couple of hours before turning in. There wasn’t as many as I thought there would be. I was disappointed, but excited none-the-less.
The next morning I tried to wake Gabe with the excellent news… he didn’t budge. I started counting and there were only a few. I was afraid they had started eating each other. So I hop online to look and see if maybe they hatch in phases or something. I had read that each ootheca can old up to as many as 300 mantises… then I see somewhere between 10 and 100. I just happen to glance over and more are starting to hatch out. It’s incredibly “oogie”… they are hanging from the sac by a tiny thread… and they are completely gross, but I can’t make myself look away. My skin is crawling and I am covered in goosebumps, and I itch… stomach turns. It was totally bizarre…. amazing even.
SO, we had decided earlier to just name our whole jar of mantises something that is rather unisexual. Gabe came up with Alex, since we know both boys and girls with that name… On a non related note, Gabe’s naming skills aren’t the best. This was alright, but when I was pregnant, he wanted to name the baby… if a boy… Chaos Destructo. Yeah…hmm…
After these last mantises hatched that put my jar up to about 18. I gave some of them away, and eventually within the last few weeks it has dwindled to one. Man is he/she ever impressive. It started out the size of an ant, and now it’s close to 2 inches long.
I have been feeding them. After I first noticed they had hatched, I immediately hopped online and ordered some flightless fruitflies. They lasted for quite a while. This last shipment however has been rather disappointing. So to make a long story short… Today I let Alex go. I opened the front door, took the cheesecloth off his jar, tipped it to it’s side, grabbed the stick in the jar… was real careful cause he still “ooges” me out… and sat it on the porch. He looked at me… turned his head and looked at me. I like to believe he said thanks. Maybe even smiled.
I’m not going to say he is better off, and I am going to try to imagine he lives the rest of his life out in my flower bed. I am just going to think about the moment on the porch and letting him go… I still wish I would have touched him. I wish I wasn’t so damn scared. He brought me such happiness by doing absolutely nothing.
It’s weird but Alex is like a metaphor for my life… I am not going to go into here, but I will miss him.