Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Everyone once in a while, I am struck by the reality that everything my child knows must be spoon fed to him. He picks up bits of information from casual contact with friends, strangers, books, and TV. For the most part, though--the information gained has come from his parents. Last fall, I realized I had yet to teach him all the parts of a room. He knew about the walls, the doors, closets, and floors, but I had underlooked the ceiling. So we took 5 minutes to learn about it.

As we're heading into summer, we're spending a lot of time outdoors, which is teeming with insect life (especially in this wet and rural climate). One day, we came across a pile of sugar ants and Jackson proudly shouted, "Bee!". Several of Jack's books feature bees, and I make a big deal of it with buzzing sounds and tickling. Somehow, we haven't read about any other insects worth getting excited about. We do have a book about bugs that Jackson likes, but they are personified and busy building a house. They don't really relate to the critters we find outside.

So, we crouched down to talk about the ants. Now when a carpenter ant finds its way inside, Jackson is on the seen "Ant! Stomp!" (Still working on context, stomp ants inside and leave them be outside.) When we go for walks, we pass through swarms of gnats. The first time, Jackson shouted "Bee!" So we spent some time talking about the flies. Look a few posts back and y0u can see the hilarity that ensues when there are flies inside.

When we come across the insect life, I describe each one in a specific way. Now Jack knows about the ants, flies, spiders, butterflies, ladybugs, and caterpillars. It's occurred to me that my specificity is great, but it still leaves a little knowledge gap. I haven't found a way to work the word "bug" into Jack's developing vocabulary. I don't even know how to approach it. For the most part, I use the specific word for the type of insect I meet (unless there's a particularly annoying swarm, and then the word "bug" is accompanied by a few expletives I'd rather not draw attention to with my toddler). When I find an opportunity to teach the word, I expect it to be in the context of true bugs, and even then I'll probably be specific "box elder bug" or "stink bug". Should I be reassured that eventually my boy will attend preschool or kindergarten and quickly be schooled by his peers on the generic term for all tiny, mostly flighted creatures. Or should I take the responsibility to teach him more seriously and make sure he knows his preschool pop culture to prevent any playground embarrassments?


  1. Or he may be teaching his peers a thing or two.
    Ewan calls everything a 'spider', ever since our camping incident a couple weeks a go when Harrison completely flipped out because he thought a spider was in his sleeping bag.

  2. Yup. That's what I mean. I'm starting young to make him as geeky as possible!

  3. It sounds to me like Jamie is right. But, as far as the bug concept goes - my hubby is an amateur entomologist and is very specific also. Beemer has just learned (at 4) what a true bug is and she can tell you what the difference is. But we waited until she was old enough to notice the difference and then bought her a cool book that talks about the differences between insects and spiders and defines real bugs. It sounds to me like Jackson is right on track for geekdom! =)