My Daughter and the Fire Ants

Anyone who lives in the South (or most parts of it anyway) knows about fire ants. They are extremely pesky ants that often build large colonies where there are likely to be thousands of the little devils living at any particular time. If they bite you it feels like your flesh is on fire. Hence they are called fire ants. (That last bit of information was to benefit you that are not privileged to live in the South. We have a word for you, but I’m gonna be polite and not use it.)

Five or six years ago my daughter stood in a fire ant mound, unbeknownst to her. Within seconds, she had about a dozen bites. Fortunately she didn’t prove to be allergic to them so all was okay other than the screaming because she was in pain.

I used that opportunity to teach her about fire ants. I found a mound and got a long stick and prodded at the mound. Within seconds, hundreds of fire ants came rushing out. “See how quick they can come out,” I told her.

Now I am a little warped. Big surprise there huh? For some reason I got some sort of twisted pleasure from stirring up the fire ant colony. I think my daughter did too. So from time to time we would find a mound and get a long stick just to stir them up. Sometimes I would even kick at the mound to make it worse. Once the ants started swarming out of the mound we would retreat to a safe distance. We never got bit. Not even once. I even let my daughter stir them up sometimes under my supervision of course.

Several years ago Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore installed a monument to the Ten Commandments, inside the court building. Knowing a huge legal showdown was coming and that the monument would soon be forcibly removed, I took my daughter to see it. She took one look at it then asked me if we could go stir up some fire ants. That might be more fun. I can’t say I disagreed.

Flash forward to the present. We got word that my daughter had been misbehaving some in her third grade class. Most of it was for talking and passing notes, but one of the issues was the teacher caught her not once but twice jumping up and down on a fire ant mound. The teacher described her as jumping as high as she could, even pulling her legs up close to her body, then extending them as she was on the way down in order to exert maximum force against the fire ants.

I have to say. I am not happy she was doing that. In fact in many ways I am disappointed in her because she does know how dangerous they are and she also knows a dear sweet classmate of hers is highly allergic. But on the other hand the mental picture of her jumping up and down almost made me burst out laughing. Fortunately I didn’t because the teacher (who is a treasure of a lady that we deeply admire and respect) was very concerned and grieved over that incident.

I don’t think there is really a moral to this story. I blame myself to a certain extent. But I also have taught her that we don’t play the victim card. We are responsible for our own actions. I guess if I have a motive for writing this post it is an attempt to deal with my own conflicted feelings. I’m horrified and amused by it all at the same time. I guess that’s just one of those paradoxes of parenthood.


One Response to “My Daughter and the Fire Ants”

  1. I stuck my hands in pine straw once as a kid…and it ended up being a fire ant mound.

    Let’s just say my hands were not useable for a few weeks.

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