Cultivate Your Inner Mantis

Every parent of a child with special needs has had Very Bad Days. Hell, every partner, sibling, good friend, and housemate has had those days. But there’s something especially protective about the way parents are on behalf of their children (blood relations or not; there’s more to parenting than DNA). Maddy just had one of Those Very Bad Days. This post is dedicated to her, and to everyone else who has been such situations. You don’t mess with mama bears. Or any species of protective parents. Even if we parents are stunned by the utter meanness, stupidity, lack of consideration, or bureaucratic idiocy, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have those flashes of utter savagery flick through our hearts.

The difference being that usually we think before we speak. Or, that we suffer badly from l’Esprit de l’escalier and the appropriately witty or remonstrative remark doesn’t occur until the moment has long passed. Or, all we can do is stand there and sputter.

So here is Mildred the Mantid. She was mother to more than I could count and an amazing hunter with ninja-like reflexes and deadly skills. And before you make any comments, the whole story about female praying mantids biting the heads off their mates is somewhat apocryphal, and quite likely an artifact of being stuck in a small laboratory cage with nowhere to dash off.

However, having watched Mildred dispatch a number of dinners, I can tell you that she would start her meals by first biting off the head of her victim, quickly and neatly dispatching whatever had wandered too close. Brains are relatively fatty, so are good calories in a world of lean, crunchy critters. Then she would leisurely rip off the wings, because there’s no good eatin’ in insect wings. Ditto the ends of the legs. And when finished, she would daintily begin to groom herself, much in the same manner that a cat does, brushing off her antennae, and nibbling down each of her six limbs from the thorax all the way down to the tarsi. Then she would flick her wings back into a comfortable position, and compose herself to waiting there quietly, all over again. Even when she was “very preggers”, all large and ungainly from being egg-heavy (photo on right) Mildred was a predatory force to be reckoned with.

Don’t Mess With Mom.

Don’t go saying dumb-ass, idiotic, rude, uncaring, insensitive, presumptive, judgmental things about our children …

… because then we have the lovely image of the fabulously wicked female mantis, who after sitting perched in her pose of Absolutely Shocked bug-eyed stillness, will — in a flash — reach out with her raptorial forelegs to grab the intruder and BITE THE HEAD OFF.

There. Much better now.




  1. Niksmom said,

    11 January 2008 at 3:13

    This is wonderful! Having very recently felt like doing just that…biting off heads…I can so appreciate this. :-)

  2. ami said,

    9 January 2008 at 15:54

    Came here from Maddy’s blog.
    I loved the parallel between the mean bug woman and the ‘don’t mess with my kids’ woman.


  3. Maddy said,

    9 January 2008 at 5:26

    Well thank you! You know a couple of summers ago I bought one of those little bags of potential bugs [eggs] from the garden centre. Usually I buy the ladybirds but I saw one of Praying Mantis [how could I resist?] They hatched and were gone in a flash into the shrubbery.

    This summer, two years later we found a huge one [4 inches ish] on the patio. Because it was so big they had a debate whether it was a boy or a girl? Then out of the blue he told me it was a girl because the big girls ate the little boys. Could have knocked me down with a feather.

%d bloggers like this: