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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A lady bug may be a boy

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In the past I have used stories that our oldest granddaughter, Heather Ernsbarger, had written. Readers were amazed at the talent of her writing for her age. She also demonstrated a great amount of creativity. It has been sometime since I have used anything that she has written.

This granddaughter is no longer a little girl; she is now approaching becoming an adult. She is in her senior year of high school and is in the process of deciding which college she will be attending.

As a young little girl, she asked me a good question one time. She was looking at a lady bug and wondered what boy bugs were called. I found it difficult to explain to her that was what we called the bugs, but they included the boy bugs.

We never know that what we say or do might have an impact on a child's life. Last week, Heather sent an essay that she had written titled, "Man Bug." In it, she shares what that incident with the lady bugs from her perspective and how it had an influence on life. This helped to develop a philosophy of life which we can all learn from her thoughts.

The essay, "Man Bug," written by Heather follows:

It was a simple question asked by a curious little girl that sparked an abundance of thought. I must have been three or four years old, for my feet were dangling well above the ground as I sat on an overturned log. Kicking my small, sneaker enclosed feet, I noticed a cluster of ladybugs scurrying along the underside of the log. The next minute I jumped off the log and squatted low so that my face was inches away from the squirming mass. I quickly made my selection, a small, yellow-orange ladybug at the edge of the group, and smiled as it crawled onto my finger. As I squatted there, I pulled my finger in close to my face and began to examine the tiny bug for an explanation. What made this six-legged creature a ladybug? My grandfather had been watching and without being too prying, asked what I was doing. I held my finger close to his face so he could get a good view.

"Papa," I asked with a hint of sadness in my voice, "what happened to all the man bugs?"

There was a good hearty laugh emitted by my grandfather followed by a quick explanation that ladybugs were not all ladies. Despite the name, some ladybugs were, indeed, man bugs.

For some reason, unknown to me, this newly-discovered information made a great impact on the way I viewed the world. How could something that was called by one name not have any relation to that name at all? True, ladybugs were all bugs, but they were certainly not all ladies. Did that mean that things were not always as they seemed? Had I spent the whole four years of my life thinking that the world was supposed to make sense? It was undeniable; the world did not appear sensible. I had come to the realization that things could not be judged on first impressions and that everything was subject to multiple meanings; it was a hard concept to grasp.

This fact has become increasingly evident as I have grown older. Several occasions have forced me to reevaluate my opinions on everything from people to situations. These optical illusions of life occur frequently, and with each instance I learn a new lesson. One such lesson transpired when I was in the seventh grade. I had been attending ballet lessons for several years with a girl who was also in some of my classes at school. In my opinion, she was too outspoken and very rude, nothing but a little monster who always got her way. Seventh grade was the year that our class began a project called History Day. I was in desperate need of a partner and, ironically, so was the brat. My partner and I spent many long hours devoted to History Day. Somehow, without even realizing it, the brat slowly became my best friend and her friendship is something I treasure. Because of our hard work in History Day, we attended the national competition in Washington, D.C., three years in a row. We even received a special award on our topic and flew to Ireland as a result. Sometimes I have a hard time imagining what my life would have been like if I would have been firm in my belief that she was nothing but a brat. She was not what I expected in the least. From that short epiphany with the ladybugs, I have learned that the world does not always make sense. It is a great knowledge to posses as I continue through life, discovering new "man bug" incidents every day.

That concludes Heather's essay. I greatly appreciate her sharing her story and giving me permission to use it in this column. May you have a "man bug" incident.

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large