|Beware of the Venus Cowtrap!|
While I was buying an electric trimmer a couple of weeks ago, Meryl, my oldest, bumped into the Venus Flytrap display. She was excited at the prospect of owning a flesh-eating plant. Who wouldn’t be?
The pictures of the plants focus on the outerworldly, clamshell-like leaves that snap shut on unsuspecting prey. The plants are never shown next to anything you’d know the size of, so as a kid, I naturally imagined there existed an immense and
fearsome Triffid-like species that grew large enough to eat large, hooved mammals. Coooooooool!
This is quite the opposite of reality, and especially what’s in the store. Its “leaves” are smaller than my thumbnail. I am sure I’ve passed by the display several times before, oblivious to what it actually was. I’m also sure I would have never bought one once I saw it wouldn’t be able to handle some of the spiders in the house. I know she’s eventually going to kill the thing; however, I liked the prospect of her getting interested in something quasi-dangerous and flat-out weird instead of her usual staple of dancing faeries and princesses. When she gave me that dad-melting twinkle, I grudgingly agreed to buy one.
|I’m trying to teach the kids the value of money and that we have to make choices with what we have. Thus, whenever she wants to buy something, I ask her a bunch of questions to help her prioritize what she spends money on. It seems to have helped her stave off wanton consumerism.|
My wife read the brochurelet on the plant’s care and feeding. Venus Flytraps like lots of moisture. Check They like warm climates and lots of sun. Uh, oh… Well, this is the summer.
We set up the plant on the outside patio table because I refused to keep it in the house. I knew the kids would accidentally lose whatever bugs were for the intended feast. I don’t want to step on one at 1:00 a.m. on the way to the bathroom. (Ewwwwwww.)
Meryl and Helen were both eager to scour the yard for bugs. Helen quickly lost interest, preferring to play with the pillbugs. (We didn’t think they’d be good food since pillbugs are mostly exoskeleton, and flytraps don’t eat exoskeletons.) Meryl remembered the boy across the street likes bugs (well, duh) and invited him over to help feed the plant.
This was unexpected. The two had been getting along really well until March when the boy, who’s one year older, got a little too aggressive in a game they were playing. He got a reaction to an evil grimace/loud growl, and has since been repeating the noise whenever he sees Meryl. She convinced herself that he’s out to “get her.”
We walked over, ring the doorbell, and the boy happily agreed to come over and hunt for bugs. (Four months of social issues are instantly undone!)
They gawked at the plant, then hunted for bugs for about twenty minutes before losing interest. For the next hour or so, they were happily playing “follow the leader” in the greenbelt behind the house.
The venus flytrap looked sadder with each passing day as its leaves turned from green to brown to black. The plant is now officially dead, and will become part of the ecosystem.
Meryl has been asking for a pet. I’ve been loathe to get one since we know who’ll really end up caring for it. The demise of the flytrap hasn’t dispelled this notion, though we are happy the animus between the kids seems to be over. In the meantime, we’ve asked Meryl to “research pets” so she’ll understand some of the responsibilities. I am hoping it’ll take her awhile to getting around to doing so. However, to her credit, when she had the short-term gig taking care of a neighbor’s mice, they all survived.