I don’t understand the cicada haters

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I was talking to some other parents at softball practice about the thunderstorms that had blown through the night before, and someone said, “Well, at least it shut up the cicadas,” and most of the other parents standing around agreed that was a good thing.

I didn’t say anything. This is one of issues where people have to agree to disagree.

I like the cicadas. I like hearing that whirring drone whenever I step outside. I think it sounds like summer. It makes me think of summer vacation and cookouts and playing outside until it’s too dark to see.

Here in the South, we have the nation’s largest brood of periodic cicadas, Brood XIX. It’s been underground since 1998, living on tree roots. Cicadas emerge by crawling up the trunk. The males buzz to attract the females. The females will lay their eggs, and this brood of cicadas will disappear underground for another 13 years.

Thing 2′s soccer team cookout was last Saturday. The trees and wooden fences were covered with living cicadas and their discarded shells. One of the boys ran over to show me something. It was a cicada.

“Why don’t you put it down?” I said. “It’s a living thing. It’s not bothering anyone.”

Someone said, “At school, this boy pulled the legs off one and its head popped off!”

“Let’s not do that,” I said. “It’s been underground since before you were born. It’s just trying to make babies. Let’s leave it alone.”

The boy roughly put the cicada on a fence rail, and it limped away.

This brood of cicadas is expected to disappear by July. Some people won’t, but I’ll kind of miss them.

Here’s a video I shot of some cicadas in the magnolia tree outside my window.

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Quiz: Should you have kids?

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baby bentrup

Image by paparutzi via Flickr

I was talking to a friend the other day who’s thinking of having kids.

She said she didn’t think she wanted kids, but she’s almost 40, and she loves babysitting her nieces, and, well, she’s thinking maybe she wants kids after all.

I told her what it’s like, being a parent, and, I feel bad about this, but I think I might have talked her out of having kids. I didn’t mean to. I just asked her some questions, like these. Select all answers that apply, then add up the points.

Do you like sleep?

  • Absolutely, at least 8 straight hours a night. (-5 points)
  • No, I actually kind of like watching reruns of “Family Ties” at 3 a.m. on a weeknight. (+5 points)

On weekends, you like to (select all that apply):

  • Sleep in. (-20 points)
  • Grab a cup of coffee and read the paper. (-10 points)
  • Work in the yard/garden. (-5 points)
  • Make dinner based on whatever looked good at the Farmer’s Market. (-30 points)
  • Run errands. (0 points.)
  • Do a week’s worth of dishes. (+10 points)
  • Get a kid in his soccer uniform for team pictures at 8:30, grab a muffin, be back at the soccer fields for a game at 10, drive 45 minutes to the older kid’s softball game at 1, swing by Target after the game for a birthday present for a classmate’s birthday, run home so the older kid can change, take her to the classmate’s birthday party, do your weekly grocery shopping, pick up the older kid, grill hot dogs for supper, work in the yard, fall asleep by 9:30. (+15 points)

Your dream vacation is:

  • A two-week backpacking adventure in someplace like Vietnam. (-50 points)
  • A week in a big city, shopping and soaking up culture. (-15 points)
  • A week at Disney World. (0 points)
  • Visiting your parents or in-laws. (+5 points)
  • Visiting any relative willing to provide free babysitting. (+10 points)

When you eat out, you like:

  • Something good, like Ethiopian food. (-50 points)
  • Sushi. (-20 points)
  • Anyplace with big-screen TVs and ESPN. (-5 points)
  • McDonald’s.  (0 points)
  • Someplace that lets you draw on the menus. (+5 points)
True or false: The parents are in charge, so they get to decide where the family eats.
  • True. (-2o points)
  • True, technically, but if they’re smart, they’ll pick something the kids would like. (+5 points)

How many times a day could you listen to this song?

  • Make it stop. (-20 points)
  • It’s OK for kids to use headphones, right? (-10 points)
  • Meh. (0 points)
  • You know, that’s not a bad song. (+5 points)
  • I actually kind of like it. (+10 points)
  • “Go, captain, go  … go, captain, go … go, Captain Feathersword, ahoy!” (+20 points)

Answer key

  • 20 points or more: You’re as ready as you’ll ever be.
  • 0 to 19 points: Get a cat first, see how that works out.
  • 0 points or less: You should not have kids.

There go our lazy Saturdays

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We’re still a few weeks from Labor Day, but here in Tennessee, school is already back in session, and I realized this morning we probably won’t have any more lazy Saturdays for a while.

Thing 1 (the 10-year-old) is starting softball, and Thing 2 (the 4-year-old) is about to start soccer.

Softball practices at least once during the week and on Friday nights and plays on Saturday afternoons, usually.

Her team, though, competes with teams from all over the county. Most of her games will be close to home, but some of the games will be out in the country somewhere.

Couple times last season, it took about an hour to get to the park. Luckily, it was next to a Sonic, so the girls didn’t complain too much about the drive.

Thing 2 practices during the week and plays on Saturday mornings at the YMCA soccer fields over by Target.

What’s interesting is that Thing 2′s soccer coach has asked Thing 1 to be one of his assistants, and Thing 1 said yes.

I don’t know why, because she fights with her brother constantly, but Thing 1 is great with little kids, and little kids really love her. If she wants to, she’ll be a good coach herself someday.

So, we’re doing not much today. Thing 1 and Mama are running around, looking for softball cleats and, I suspect, swinging by Dunkin Donuts. Thing 2 has been playing all morning with the Joker’s hideout I, um, brought him after my trip to Richmond.

Just now, though, he said he was getting bored. I told him to enjoy the feeling. He gave me a blank look, so I’m going downstairs to play Batman with him.