I found a praying mantis and made him our new
family pet. Then I accidentally killed him. So, I did the only
logical thing I could think of after that. I created a crime scene,
an intricate alibi, and told my two sons he escaped.
Then I sat down and wrote this letter so they know
the truth when they're ready… Or, more likely, to give them
something to share with their therapists in 20 years.
Do you remember that praying mantis we had for a
couple months when you were five and two? Remember when I told you
he opened the door to his cage and flew away? Well, the truth is:
he died. The more honest version is: I killed him.
He hadn't been eating for a couple of days and his
right eye was getting wonky. Things weren't looking good for him,
so we put him outside for some fresh air on one of the hottest days
of the summer. He didn't make it. I walked you out there to bring
him inside and pretended shock when he wasn't in the cage. We
called him. We peaked around the yard. I told you he must have
migrated or flew away to visit his family. He had - after all -
just developed his wings. We left the cage outside with the door
open in case he wanted to come back, but he was actually in a shoe
box in the basement.
The wings are what made me start to feel bad about
keeping him. They had just developed a couple of days before he
died. Before that he was just an insect living in a cage protected
from the birds that surely would have eaten him if I had not found
him on the door of the new house we were renovating. It was a dark
week for that house with bad news around every corner - and behind
every wall. And then I found this big, green praying mantis sitting
on the front door. I shrieked, found a tall lawn bag, ushered him
inside, and sped to your grandparents house to show you. We kept
him in a mayo jar for the first week as we decided how permanent of
a house guest he would become. You named him Pray.
I came home from work one day and your grandmother
had purchased a large cage, moss, and crickets. It was official: we
had a new pet. A new, very fragile pet. I spent lots of time on
search engines learning about Pray and all the wacky people who
like to chat about having a praying mantis for a pet. And then I
became one of those crazy people when I found myself at THREE
different pet stores at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night looking for live
crickets. You were sleeping, of course.
Do you remember when he molted? I was convinced he
was dying, so sat up watching him and googling his every move until
I figured it out. And then I went upstairs and woke you up in the
middle of the night… just so you could witness this miracle of him
shedding his skin. You thought it was cool for a minute and then
asked to go back to bed. That's when your dad had to level with me
that I may have been more into Pray than you were.
For the first two days you went
outside and called him. As I write this, the cage is still sitting
open outside waiting for the praying mantis that won't return. I'll
give the cage a few more days before we clean it out and pack it
away waiting for the next inhabitant.
Lisa Hanneman is a mother of three, which makes her an expert on everything and nothing. She writes about her family’s daily nonsense and overbooked life at Hannemaniacs.
See more of Lisa's stories here.
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