Crawdad Catching

At lunch today, Thing 2 asked for a cheese sandwich.  He specifically asked for one with bread and mayonnaise (which he calls butter) and… well… CHEESE.

Because CHEESE SANDWICH.

So, I got out the bread.  And I got out the cheese.  And I got out the Miracle Whip Light.  Because… listen.  I know the world is segregated by Republicans and Democrats, artsy folks and folks who like numbers and formulas, people who dye their hair blue and those who don’t… and lovers of Miracle Whip and lovers of REAL mayonnaise.  We are NOT the REAL MAYO kind of family.  I grew up on Miracle Whip (usually paired with bologna; don’t judge; I’ve matured over my lunch meat selections), so naturally I was drawn to a Miracle Whip sort of guy.  THANK GOODNESS!  I can’t imagine watching my husband suffer over dry sandwiches, because his wife can’t bring herself to purchase a jar of Hellman’s without having to stop and gag in the grocery store.

The family who shares Miracle Whip together, stays together.

I handed Thing 2 a plate with his sandwich on it for lunch today, along with some cantaloupe chunks.  He hollered out, “Wow, Mom!  This is gonna be a great lunch!”

He opened up the sandwich.  “Is there butter on this?”  (Translation:  Did you put Miracle Whip on my bread?)

“Yes, Son.  There’s butter on it.  But that butter is called MIRACLE WHIP.”  (I don’t know why I even bothered clarifying that today, because I’ve clarified it 27,000 times BEFORE today, and he stills calls it BUTTER.)

Thing 2 got busy with eating, and I got busy with sweeping the kitchen floor.  Within a couple of minutes, he walked by me, and said, “I love cheese sandwiches, except I don’t love the bread.”

He threw the bread straight into the garbage.

I asked him, “So basically, you love JUST CHEESE today?”

“No, Mom.  I love cheese SANDWICHES, but I don’t like the bread any more.”

This is why mothers of preschoolers are sometimes diagnosed as crazy by their primary care providers.

Anyway.

Back when Thing 2 still loved cheese sandwiches WITH BREAD… back when it was an even 100 degrees for the day… back last week… we went out to some friends’ house to catch crawdads.

Thing 2 loves to watch a vlog on You Tube that’s filmed by a dad who takes his five-year-old son on all kinds of adventures.  They watch construction equipment, they play with Tonka dump trucks in the dirt, they make go-carts, they play hide-and-seek… and the dad films it all on a Go-Pro camera for his vlog.  It really is THE CUTEST series of videos, because the dad is fun and loud and adventurous, and maybe just a touch ADHD.  Thing 2 is ENAMORED with their antics.  In one of the vlogs, the dad takes his son to catch crawdads.  They turn rocks over on the edges of a lake and catch gobs and gobs of crawdads.  The dad shows them to the “kids at home,” by holding them up to the camera.

And then the dad and his kindergarten son wrap those suckers up in aluminum foil, toss them in their campfire, and eat them for dinner.

Thing 2 has taken to asking for sheets of foil for himself at home.  He wraps Matchbox cars up in the foil, announces that he’s CAUGHT A CRAWDAD, and then he throws the car-in-foil-slash-crawdad under our coffee table, which serves as a make-believe campfire.

He is CONSTANTLY “cooking” crawdads like this at our house, and he is constantly asking me WHEN we can hunt crawdads ourselves.

That’s when my friend, Jill, handed us a real live miracle, because LO!  Jill’s six-year-old son has crawdad traps in their ditch, and PLEASE!  COME OUT AND HAUL THE CATCH IN WITH US, AND TAKE CRAWDADS HOME TO EAT!!

So that, y’all, is exactly what we did, except for that part where we ate them.  Just as Thing 2 prefers eating cheese sandwiches without bread, I prefer eating crawdads that aren’t actually crawdads.

In other words, I could  probably eat a spoonful of REAL MAYONNAISE before I could bring myself to catch a crawdad out of a ditch and eat IT.

Jill’s boys showed Thing 2 how to haul up the traps from the ditch and how to grab a crawdad JUST RIGHT, so that you didn’t end up having a finger snapped off in those frantically snapping claws.

Boyhood is very dangerous sometimes.

IMG_0772 IMG_0769 IMG_0774 IMG_0775Thing 2 was dying to hold one on his own, so after the quick tutorial on Crawdad Holding 101, Jill handed one over.

IMG_0778 IMG_0780 IMG_0781 IMG_0784 IMG_0785Our boy had his pinky finger snapped once… and it bled.  After that, he was a Professional Crawdad Catcher, who escaped being pinched again.

Boys learn important life skills quickly in the wild.

IMG_0788 IMG_0789 IMG_0790 IMG_0794 IMG_0796 IMG_0799 IMG_0800 IMG_0806 IMG_0807 IMG_0809 IMG_0810 IMG_0811 IMG_0812 IMG_0822 IMG_0823 IMG_0820 IMG_0821 IMG_0826The boys would have been content to play with their crawdad harvest by the ditch forever, but remember that part about how it was an even 100 degrees outside?

Yes, that.

Jill and I were sweating buckets, because the fun of a crawdad hunt DOES NOT trump the anguish of an angry sun when you’re a grownup, so we had the boys bring the little creatures up to the house where there was shade.

And then, because Jill is brilliant beyond all measure, she hauled out an old sand and water table, and boom!  She set up a  preschool educational sensory table, where her little students could play with crawdads to their hearts’ content…

… IN THE SHADE, where the temperature was so much cooler, at 98 degrees.

IMG_0829 IMG_0831 IMG_0833 IMG_0846 IMG_0855 IMG_0856 IMG_0844 IMG_0858And really?

A ditch and a few crawdads can keep a pack of little boys entertained for an entire week, before they realize they’re hungry again and need a bread-less cheese sandwich to eat.

IMG_0863 IMG_0867Later that morning, Jill’s boys set Thing 2 up with a Creature Carrying Case (which was a fancy glass bowl with an oxygen-supporting lid and handle).  He picked out a single crawdad to bring home, and we followed Jill’s lead.

We dumped the little fellow into our water table on our deck, along with a hefty dose of dirty ditch water, because we didn’t want to shock his system with CLEAN water from the kitchen sink.

Thing 2 spent hours outside, in that wicked heat, playing with his crawdad.

It was very possibly our little guy’s favorite day ever.

IMG_0878 IMG_0879 IMG_0880 IMG_0882 IMG_0886 IMG_0890 IMG_0891 IMG_0893 IMG_0896 IMG_0898 IMG_0904 IMG_0916 IMG_0920 IMG_0926 IMG_0931Oh!  Look!  Preschool FEET!  Is there anything cuter??!

IMG_0932By the end of that evening, our little crawdad friend was tired.  He had been handled and loved on, kissed and hugged, and he’d ridden in two different Tonka dump trucks.  Hubs and Thing 2 put the crawdad back in the Creature Carrying Case.  They drove back out to Jill’s house, and released him in the ditch.

I think that crawdad was heard singing GLORY, GLORY, HALLELUJAH at the top of his voice, right before he recited a few Psalms about being rescued from the pit and put upon a high place.  That high place turned out to be the safety of the bottom of a ditch.  After he had praised the Lord, he swam off.

He gave us an entire day of fun, and we gave him an endless string of horror stories to tell to his little grand-crawdads one day at their dinner table.

When Thing 2 came back home, he announced, “Daddy made us throw the crawdad back in the ditch, but I really wanted to cook him in a campfire and eat him!”

Life is so hard when you’re four.

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