Today we were in the backyard. Samantha had her pink sun umbrella she got at the Cherry Blossom Festival last weekend, and has been carrying around to shield herself from the sun ever since. Suddenly, she screamed and threw her umbrella. A three inch long grasshopper had landed on it, apparently confusing the umbrella for the biggest flower ever.
I have to admit. I do not like grasshoppers. They fall into my arbitrary category of crunchy bugs. I do not like bugs that crunch when you step on them. (It's a childhood trauma from a firefly.) But, being Mommy, I had to take care of the situation. So I bravely shook that umbrella, carefully pointing it away from me. And shook it, and shook it. Those things can hang on tight. (Exactly like that firefly on my finger.) Finally, it flew off, over my head and into my leg. I jumped three feet in the air, threw the umbrella, and screamed like a little girl. (Not my proudest mommy moment. I really don't want three little girls who are scared of bugs.)
The grasshopper landed in front of us. The girls were fascinated by it. I thought it was injured from having an umbrella thrown on it. Eventually, we found a long bubble wand to poke it with. I prodded it's behind to try to get it to fly out of the yard. It flew a few feet. Ella took over the prodding. The darn thing wouldn't leave the yard. It just kept flying a few feet and landing.
That's when Tabby got in on the action. She pounced. The grasshopper flew straight up. Tabby jumped straight up, snaring it in her claws and began nibbling on it. I thought it was a goner, but then it jumped away. Tabby pounced. It jumped. Tabby pounced, playing with it. Ella chased Tabby away. It lay on the ground, I assumed mortally wounded.
The girls and I talked about predators and prey and why Tabby had attacked the grasshopper, and why we were going to let her kill it. Samantha planned how she would deliver the notification to the sisters, brothers, and babies of the grasshopper that she said would soon be arriving.
They egged on Tabby, cajoling her to finish the deed. She wouldn't. The grasshopper, not moving, was not any fun. Finally, Ella poked it again with the bubble wand. And lo! it flew a few feet, apparently unharmed by the cat.
Unfortunately, Missy had been watching us and decided to get in on the action. She pounced on the grasshopper, biting and jumping away repeatedly like it was a rattlesnake. When it tried to fly, she jumped, snatched it out of the air, and tossed it to the ground. At this point, Tabby rejoined the fray, batting the grasshopper. She and Missy tag teamed the grasshopper. When it was lying still, Missy would throw herself on top of it and roll to see if it would move. Watching the two of them cooperate was like watching the velicoraptors in Jurassic Park hunt, fascinating and scary. I now know what happened to my neighbor's bird.
Finally, the grasshopper stopped moving and they tired of playing with it. Ella, again went to prod it. The darn thing was alive! It grabbed onto the bubble wand like a drowning person grabs a life preserver. I quickly took the bubble wand and launched it over our side fence to the front yard, where I knew no one would bother it. As I watched it sail over the fence, I thought, that is one lucky grasshopper. Then I heard a crunch as it hit the side of our house.