Tina and I are reading a library book about ants. Her 3½-year-old imagination takes over, and she gently scoops the ants off the page and into my hand. “Put them back,” she says.
I deposit the small black garden ants back into the ground. “Thank you for working in the garden,” I say. The fire ant goes on the facing page. “You could have killed me,” I tell it. “Thank you for not biting me.” I release the flying ants into the sky at the top of the page, and thank the rain forest ants for taking care of the trees.
Page after page, the ants are replaced with a comment about their work or a thank you for not biting me. “God made you,” I tell the little creatures.
I excuse myself to use the bathroom. Moments later Tina comes to the door, concerned. “Where did you put the ants?”
“On the couch,” I tell her.
We come to the ant enemies page—the armadillo, lizard and giant anteater. Tina is troubled. She has bonded with these little creatures who do important work and now sees them being devoured. The giant anteater can consume 20,000 at once. “That’s okay because God made him that way,” I tell her. She sees five ants at the bottom of the page, deep in the earth where the anteater’s tongue has not yet reached.
“Get these ants,” she says, and I scoop them into my hand. Five little ants live to see another day, safe from the devouring tongue of their six-foot long enemy.
“He hath made everything beautiful in his time . . .” Ecclesiastes 3:11
I dream about a bathroom sink full of ants and two toys that have sprouted wings.