My little one, the bug-terrified one, is on constant insect and spider patrol around our house. She’s always had phenomenal vision, even as a baby. I remember being outside with her once when she was just over a year old, and she glanced up for a moment and shouted “airplane!” There were several of us out there with her, and we all took a good long while scanning the sky before someone finally spotted a tiny speck of silver way, way up there. We had no idea how she’d spotted it, this tiny fleck of gray against the vast blue, but it’s a skill she’s never lost. This is a kid who can spot a grain of sand in her bed from five feet away, who will then throw a tantrum about sleeping in a “dirty” bed until I make a great show of sweeping that grain of sand out with my hand.
So, when she’s on bug patrol, and, let’s be honest, these days she’s never not on bug patrol, of course she finds them. She also finds little tufts of cat hair, miniscule dust bunnies, baby pieces of tanbark tracked in from the playground, and tiny pieces of lint that have fallen from some item of clothing. These things will send her rushing to get me, pulling on my pants leg or my shirt hem, shouting, “A bug! Mommy, come get it! There’s a bug!” At which point I come to find the “bug,” only to discover that it’s not a bug, but some other small dark inanimate object that no normal human being would notice.
The other day I picked up a small piece of black plastic which had broken off one of her toys, to prove to her that it was not, in fact, a bug. She simply nodded, jaw clenched and hands in little fists of fear, then turned and started following the wall, studying the space where the carpet meets the baseboards. I’ve done my best to stop this bug tracking habit of hers, and anytime she starts doing it I try to distract her long enough to vacuum every crevice in the house. But no amount of vacuuming can compete with a house with two kids and two pets. I think it wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have that superhuman vision, where she can spot a speck of color against the light carpet from across the room. That and this whole bug terror, which sends her into tremors at the mere sight of a morsel of cat food fifteen feet away.