I used to have a cat named Murphy. He was my roommate and best friend for more than a decade and, sadly, he died a little over six years ago, just a month after my first child was born. My mom is allergic to cats and I feel like Murphy knew that after I had a baby, I would want my mom to be able to visit me more. I like to think his passing was a passing of the torch, if you will. That he knew I’d be taken care of when he left. He was a great cat….
Anyway, I used to be able to call Murphy by his name and he knew how urgent I wanted him to come based on the tone of my voice.
“Murphy! Murphy! Murphy!” I’d often yell in a somewhat panicked voice. In a flash, he’d come trotting around the corner to see what I needed. Trotting was top speed for him, he was a lazy housecat after all.
“A spider, Kitty!” I’d say. “Eat him up! Get him!”
And, unless it was a little dark crunchy one — he didn’t care for those — he’d do his job and bat the intruder around until it curled up, and then with one lick of his prickly pink tongue, Murph would gobble the spider up and that would be that.
This entire walk down memory lane is to say that I’ve learned that I can use the exact same tone of voice to summon my children in a jiffy.
Curiously, when I use that tone of voice on the kids, it’s usually also about bugs.
It all started the other day with a cricket. We’d been outside riding bikes and scooters, trying to make the most of some unexpected warm weather when I almost stepped on a little cricket on the road just in front of our house.
“A cricket, a cricket!” I said in The Voice.
The kids came running and did their best to capture it with their bare hands before one peeled off to get a container.
Catching a cricket was one of the highlights of this year’s bug hunting adventures. We are pros at collecting ants and beetles and spiders and whatnot but a cricket was a real thrill.
It only got better from there.
The children fed it a dead leaf and a few blades of grass and wondered where we could get it some meat.
That’s when we had the chat about bugs eating other bugs sometimes and nature and the food chain but none of that fazed the kids at all as they kept looking for other insects to add to their collection.
While searching for other bugs we saw another cricket hopping along the road. The kids gave chase but ended up losing it under the vehicle in the driveway and for some reason not understood by the kids, we wouldn’t let them crawl under after it.
Then we remembered the big spider from the roof of the garage. In our attempt to get it down and wrangle it into our container, we lost it, we all believe, down my son’s sleeve. He reacted way better than I would, let me tell you, but he did request a different shirt and I don’t blame him.
We found a replacement spider from somewhere else in the yard, but just before the spiders I made the day’s coolest find. It was a grasshopper I saw land in the grass.
What a boon! A cricket AND a grasshopper!? The poor grasshopper was missing a leg, the kids noticed. Nature is harsh.
Up next was a bigger spider of the same type as the one already in the container, which automatically made it the smaller spider’s mother, according to our daughter.
You’ve never seen such a panicked grasshopper as when that big spider entered the confined space.
Have you ever read/seen The Hunger Games? It was like a fight to the death inside that plastic container. I’m pretty sure the spider ate a chunk of the crane fly. In fact, quite a few of the other bugs feared the spider, too.
Nevertheless, the kids kept enthusiastically collecting.
Next, it was a dying/injured wasp which my son scooped up with a small broom and dust pan to avoid being stung that got dumped into the mix.
Soon thereafter it was a crane fly whose legs we mangled getting into the jar before he met his ultimate demise thanks to the spiders. Or so I thought. My husband, who ended up releasing the collection later, said everyone but the wasp was still alive.
After adding an earwig and a small beetle we were getting ready to call it a victory and head indoors when we came upon one more insect.
Last but not least, we found a very jumpy, smaller grasshopper. The kids were more jumpy than the grasshopper at that point.
It’s, without a doubt, our best bug haul ever. But my cat taught me a lesson all those years ago about using That Voice.
Eventually Murphy stopped coming because I used the special tone too many times just to show visitors he’d come.
I figure the same will be true with the kids. I might have to shelve the special voice and instead of using it bug-hunting, maybe only pull it out when I really need to.
Like when Mommy needs more coffee.