Samantha does not like bugs of any sort, especially red tummy spiders. Any bug she sees she announces by running screaming from the area. She will not return to the area until the offending bug is removed and preferably squashed. Fortunately, ants are not bugs. She likes them and loves to pick them up and let them crawl up and down her arm. She loves it when they crawl upside down, and she twists and contorts to try to see them.
Today, her cousins came over to play. She found an ant and ran to show it off. I watched her carefully squat and place her hand on the ground to allow the ant to crawl off. Then she pointed, following the ant's path with her finger.
"See, Jacob? See my ant?"
Jacob looked down at the ant. Then, because he is a boy, he picked up his foot and stomped the ant and smeared it around and ground it into the pavement. He squished it good, that ant was dead.
Samantha looked up at her cousin in disbelief. Her mouth began to quiver, tears welled up in her eyes. Then she started sobbing, big, gasping, heart-broken wails escaped her throat. I was sitting under the canopy on the back patio. Our eyes met and she came running to me, throwing her shaking body into mine, wrapping her arms tightly around my neck, and buried her face in my neck, sobbing.
Her Auntie Ali asked her to go help find another ant. She shook her head no, looking with pleading eyes into mine.
"You don't want another ant, do you?" I asked.
She shook her head no.
"That was your special ant, wasn't it," I said.
She shook her head yes and began to cry harder. She cried in my arms for a few minutes, mourning her special ant, before getting over it and finding a new ant. I think the same scenario will play out in a few years, with boys instead of ants.