Monday, July 13, 2009

The Bug Birthday

GrasshoppersWell, LR recently turned four. You know, no matter how many times I say that it still sounds impossible. Four? I would swear that we brought him home from the hospital just last week. And yet.

Not surprisingly, he likes dinosaurs, animals of all kinds, cars and trucks, and especially bugs. [Note: throughout this post I will be using the term "bugs" to refer to any and all arthropods; please do not email me to complain that butterflies, or whatever, are not "bugs"]. To be fair, he also likes letters, musical instruments, learning words in foreign languages and Dora the Explorer. But mostly, he likes creepy-crawlies. In general, if it has more than two legs, he likes it; if it has more than four legs, he loves it. My wife's general take on his interests, made after watching him at the local science museum? "He's such a boy."

It therefore comes as no surprise that this birthday will go down in our family annals as The Bug Birthday.Bug-vacuum Because that was the general theme of lots of his presents. Among other things, he got insect-themed flashcards, a variety of plastic/rubber bugs, and a butterfly pavilion. (The butterflies were great. Here's a review of the Butterfly Pavilion). He also got a bug-catcher; a small vacuum-powered device that allows you to temporarily and safely collect bugs, look at them under an attached magnifying lens, and then release them unharmed. Where were these toys when I was a kid? In any event, he didn't actually get a bug-catcher; he got two bug-catchers.

Why? Not only did we get him a bug-catcher, but so did a pair of twins in his class. (Luckily, we hadn't yet given him ours when he had his party for his friends; it was still upstairs in its very returnable box). We were pretty much floored by this gift. While it was obviously perfect, we were very surprised that another parent knew LR this well; while we're definitely friendly with the mother, we're not close.

There was, however, another possibility. About a month before LR's birthday, we went to the birthday party for these twins. As we often do, we asked LR what we should buy them for gifts figuring that he knows them much better than we do. This time, however, we were a bit concerned about his suggestion. Okay, it was more of a clamorous demand than a suggestion, but you get the idea. He had suggested that we get them both a Band in a Bucket. Not only would that gift clearly violate the Noisy Gift Rule, but one of the twins has a profound hearing loss and we were concerned about the propriety of such a gift without knowing the girl better than we did. LR was insistent, however, and we reluctantly gave in.

We therefore didn't know if the bug-catcher was a great gift, or if it was intended to be payback for our Noisy Gift violation. Having no shame, I decided to ask the mother directly. We ended up having a great laugh over the whole thing. LR was right (of course). Her daughter loves music; even when she can't hear it she can feel it and she loves to play. She also had no problem with the noise factor. When I asked how she knew about my son's love of bugs, she explained that she used the same method for buying presents that we do; she asks her kids. Both of her children had insisted that she buy LR something "bug-ish." In fact, they had wanted to get him a mechanical tarantula but she had put her foot down; she just couldn't do that to my wife.

Even though everything worked out so well, I still can't help wondering. Is this really what I want my son known for? Bugs? Really??


  1. Hey, entomologists get to do all kinds of neat things, like trek through unexplored forests, do research into extinction and invasion of certain species, write papers on their environmental impact, and even name new bugs. Even if he's only doing something domestic like showing off bugs in a museum to a bunch of fourth graders, it's still a pretty cool occupation.

    I had a period of about six months as a kid when I wanted to be an entomologist. Then I developed a fear of spiders that extrapolated itself to anything crawling on me. Not good traits for someone who wants to study bugs.

  2. All excellent points. I'm still just not sure that I want my kid known as "What his name? You know....the one who's always playing with bugs."

  3. Happy birthday to LR! That's really cool that he can do that, whenever we've asked our twins what we should get as a birthday present for someone else, they either didn't know or suggested something that THEY would like, like a Thomas train or something. So we usually end up getting gift cards...

    For our boys the big obsession has been trains, although they've had other interests too. Now it's Pokemon for our twins (just turned 8) and still Thomas the Tank Engine for our 4-yr-old.

    I kwym about time going so fast, seems those birthdays come around before we know what happened!