"It has WHAT?" I recoiled in horror. My son had just said the Irish steel-cut oats that my daughter made for breakfast, the ones we all love, made in honor of St. Patrick's Day- had bugs in it. "You're crazy, kiddo, I checked it myself." "No, mama they're really small, you can barely see them." I told him to bring me the container, and I put it close to my eye, squinting carefully. Sure enough, tiny little crawly bugs, almost invisible to the eye were crawling around inside the container. On the oats. That she had just cooked. I felt my bile rise. Apparently we added a little extra protein to our breakfast this morning. That's when my littlest daughter started screaming. I understood, but this was over the top. You have to love autism.
You need to understand, JBean at seven, is pretty much bug-phobic. She doesn't like any of them, no matter how cute or interesting they might be. As you can imagine, this makes going outside a challenge. She just found out that the oatmeal she had eaten, and my leftovers that she had scarfed had contained hideous bugs the thing she hates most in life. She was on the verge of a panic attack.
Meanwhile, my eldest daughter, who had cooked the oats, was ashen. She had tears running down her face, and her mouth was frozen into a mask of horror. Surely, this could not be happening.
And my son, JBear, the fruit of my loins, the one who has no idea when to stop talking, continued to tell us all how we had eaten bugs, and they were there, in the container, and could you believe it? Trying to shut him up and deal with the now-death-grip on my arm from my youngest and console my oldest who of course, was blaming herself, because you know if anything goes wrong when she is doing something it is automatically her fault. Just ask her. And I was trying to control my roiling stomach. Amidst the screams of them all. Why is it when all hell breaks loose, I feel the insane urge to laugh? I guess I see the comedy in the situation...
My youngest decided then she needed to go to the bathroom. But, since she was absolutely freaked out about the possibility of bugs, she decided she wasn't going into the bathroom, because what if there were bugs in there? She declared she was just going to wet her pants, she didn't care. (niiiice, don't you want MY life? Sometimes, neither do I).
JBear, who was trying to help said, "If you pee your pants it will attract bugs!" Alrighty, then. Thanks for that kid. The screaming intensified:
"I have to go to the bathroom! No, I am going to pee my pants! I won't go! Ah, I will bring bugs if I peeeeee..." Completely out of control. I cupped her face with my hands, something she doesn't like, but that brings her back into focus and told her to listen to the sound of my voice. She needed to calm down. "We are going to do birthday candles to help you calm down, now." I told her. And I lead her through some deep breathing to slow her heart and her fears. It worked, and she did go to the bathroom. But then she was worried that maybe she peed just a little in her undies, and that it would attract bugs! I explained that doesn't happen, she was fine, and she could just go change her underwear if she was worried. So she did. With some cajoling and I walked her through it.
No sooner did she get done, my son started again about the bugs in the oatmeal. He hadn't eaten any of it (he is gluten-free) and so lacking empathy with autism, was fascinated by our predicament. He just wouldn't stop talking! How festive! Once I got him quiet, I convinced the girls that the bugs got in after we opened the container and we didn't eat anything except oats. Turned out when my son said, "bug" my littlest daughter heard, "Bug" and here that's code for the C Word, because I am terrified of them. (other bugs are fine, but the big black/brown ones send me to the moon. I suppose in a way it is funny. Unless you are me.) So the kids know not to say that word, that rhymes with the second word in "stagecoach." That kind of bug is what my JBean thought was in the can of oats...no wonder she freaked out at the possibility of eating it! Ugh. I explained that the bugs we were talking about were too small to see, and that they are called weevils. (not that it helped me, but she started to calm down.)
So of course, I had to tweet our gross discovery, because well, duh. And someone tweeted back not to share the recipe with her for something, in spanish. I didn't recognize the word. I clicked the link, not really thinking. LIttle daughter was sitting right there, next to the computer. The link was a picture of a frying pan full of grasshoppers. Nice crunchy ones, with garlic and chiles. And yes, it looked like a pan full of bugs. Crap. I blew that one. The hysterics started again. It took a half-hour to calm her down, but I finally distracted her with a book. (later my twitter friend apologized, but it really was not her fault, at all. Also, I found it interesting that in Mexico they eat grasshoppers. Don't the legs get stuck in your teeth??) Yes, I know in many countries they eat insects, but culturally, I can't get past my bias...
Anyway...it made such great blog fodder, so I owe her.
Once everyone is settled down, we spoke no more of it. But I would imagine it will be a long time before any of us eat oatmeal again. And you better believe I will be using a magnifying glass to check grains from now on!
T, who is feeling sick just writing this