Ten days into the school year Lilly ran outside to catch bugs after school. I watched her out of the kitchen window as I prepared dinner. She had on jean shorts and a little green checked top, and her hair was still up in the ponytail that I’d fixed that morning. It must have been a good day at school.
She was all over that white flower bush, and I assumed she was probably catching dozens of those little beetles. After a while, she came through the back door into the kitchen and headed to the bathroom. I stopped her to make sure she hadn’t brought in any contraband bugs, but she hadn’t.
On the way back from the bathroom she stopped in front of me and said, “Mom, I put a beetle in my ear, and he won’t come out.”
I frowned incredulously at her and asked, “What? You put a beetle in your ear?” I felt sick. I’d seen a movie once where a scarab beetle had gone in a sleeping man’s ear and into his brain and he had gone mad. I wanted to throw up but fought to stay calm. “Lilly, get in the car -right now! We’re going to the emergency room and they’ll get it out.”
She looked at me and smacked her ear a few times. “I can hear him. He is very angry.”
Sure enough I could hear him, too. He was making a clicking sound, and I thought I’d faint before we got in the car.
The hospital wasn’t busy, and Lilly was put in a patient room almost as soon as we got there. A young female nurse sat Lilly up on an exam table and I sat down on a stool nearby. Then the doctor came in to examine her and checked both ears by peering through a black otoscope.
He nodded his head and said, “Yes, there’s a beetle in the left ear. We’ll just flush it out.” He put his instrument in a pocket and left.
Lilly was still smacking her ear, and I could still hear the beetle inside it clicking. I had to force myself to think of something else –anything else -while we waited with the young nurse.
Soon a woman breezed in and while Lilly sat up on the exam table, the nurse placed a pink basin under Lilly’s ear, and sprayed water into it from a syringe. On the second plunge of water, the beetle was flushed out and actually went flying across the room. The younger nurse hurried after it, probably to catch it and do away with it, but Lilly shouted, “That’s MY beetle!”
I was so relieved they got the bug out of her ear, but I was angry at the same time because they put that stupid beetle in a lidded container for her to take home.
A few days later as I was putting her to bed, she was especially quiet and seemed thoughtful. She was all covered up and had her head resting peacefully on her pillow.
I crouched beside her bed at eye level and smiled.
She started her prayers: “Dear God, thank you for Mommy and Daddy. Thank you for Tina and Baler and Peek. Thank you for me. Amen.”
I gave her a kiss on the forehead and rose to leave. I was about to pass through her doorway when she said, “Mom.”
I stopped and turned to look at her.
“I didn’t want to tell you this, but I put another beetle in my ear.”