Last night, I was reading Aidan one of the new "Beginning to Read Alone" books that Miss Hopkins gave him. One was cleverly titled, "Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!" and was about-- you guessed it -- bugs. We read happily along, learning about the praying mantis that eats flies and the special wasp that actually paralyzes and kills tarantulas and lays its eggs in their decaying flesh. The cheery read continued, singing the praises of various bugs and their food sources.
Until page 14, and I quote, "An assassin is a person who kills another person on purpose. The assassin bug is a bug that really lives up to its name."
Trying to control my laughter, I skipped over the handy yet age-inappropriate operational definition of "assassin" and continued: "When it catches another insect, it injects the insect with poison. The poison turns the bug's insides to soup. Then the assassin bug sucks up the soup!".
I couldn't take it anymore. Everything I read after this book became incredibly funny to me. Even "Animal Hospital", a tale about the miraculous recovery of a poor injured duck named Jemima. Gabrielle has, for no apparent reason, a zero tolerance policy on laughter and kept scolding me, "Stop it, Mommy! Stop it!" but I just couldn't help reflecting on the absurdity of a line like, "An assassin is a person who kills another person on purpose" being in a children's book. What's next? "A prostitute is a woman who . . ." or "A drug dealer is a person who . . . "?
Nevertheless, I am sure Aidan's night was filled with sweet dreams of poisonous bug soup and deadly Postman butterfly caterpillars whose dinners turn their flesh into poison for potential predators. What more could a 5 year-old boy ask for?