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Back to Activities“Finish Me” Stories — The BugMaker's Gift

When my Mother was a little girl, there were these little black beetles with dark orange heads. Oh, they had a name, but it was a long scientific name used only by entomologists, who are people that study insects. 

My Mother didn't know what they were called and neither did Grandma. Every now and then, on the way home from her grasshopper hunt, one of these little black and orange beetles would fly over to Mother and land on her arm or leg or, sometimes even, her face. Mother, who was never afraid of bugs, would brush it off and yell at it.

 "Stupid bug! Get off my leg," she would yell. And the little black and orange beetle would fly away. 

Where would the beetle go? Mother never knew nor cared. 

But I know. It would fly over to its Mother, another little black and orange beetle. The two of them would talk, sadly. 

The little black and orange beetle complained to its Mother, "No one wants to play with me. I keep trying and trying to get one of the children to chase me or play with me, but they only want to chase grasshoppers." 

The Mother black and orange beetle would explain, "Grasshoppers can hop. Just when a child is about to catch one, they hop away." 

"We don't do that. We're easy to catch," said the little beetle, not understanding. 

"Children don't want bugs to be easy to catch," the Mother beetle further explained. "They want fun. They want a challenge. Easy to catch is not a challenge. Easy to catch is not fun." 

The little beetle thought he understood. So the next day, he found the children playing in the park and he flew near Mother's face. Mother swatted her hand at the little beetle and nearly hit him. The little beetle flew away from Mother, expecting that she would chase him. She did not. 

So the little beetle tried again. He flew right in front of Mother's face and as soon as he saw Mother looking at him, he flew away. Once again, Mother did not chase him. 

The third time, he hovered right in front of Mother's nose and waited for her to try to catch him. But instead, Mother turned away and said to her friends, "Let's go home. There are too many stupid bugs here today." And the children went inside Mother's apartment to play Monopoly. 

"I don't understand," said the little black and orange beetle to his Mother. "Why wouldn't that girl play with me?" 

The Mother beetle patiently explained, "We don't do anything that children think is fun. We just fly around. And we're not even fast. Flies are fast. Hornets are fast. We're slow. Why would anyone want to try to catch a slow bug? It'd be too easy and, as I said last time, easy is no fun." 

"It's not fair!" hollered the little beetle. "Why can't we fly faster or hop? Other insects can." 

"That," said the Mother beetle, "I cannot tell you. Maybe you should go ask the BugMaker." 

"I will," declared the little beetle. 

When my Mother was a little girl, you could still talk to the Makers. The Makers were, as their name describes, in charge of making all the animals and plants and minerals of the world. If the world needed something new, one of the Makers would make it. 

There was a TreeMaker, a PlantMaker, a FlowerMaker, a RockMaker, a PeopleMaker and all sorts of other Makers. And, anytime you had a question about why you were here or why other things were here, you could ask one of the Makers. You just had to know where to look. 

So the little black and orange beetle went to see the BugMaker. He flew up the tree to where the BugMaker lived and waited by the BugMaker's door, which was really just a large oak leaf. The little beetle softly rustled the leaf and inquired politely, "BugMaker? Are you in?" 

An old woman insect's voice came gently from inside, more like the sound of the wind than the click of a beetle. "Yes. I am here. What sort of bug are you?" 

The BugMaker always asked what sort of bug was at the door, because she always came out looking just like that type of bug, only bigger. 

The little beetle answered sadly, "A stupid, little, slow-flying, no-hopping, black and orange beetle." 

The BugMaker came through the leaf door looking just like the little black and orange beetle (only bigger.) She chuckled softly and gave the little black and orange beetle a look that made him feel anything but stupid. Her look made him feel warm and loved as only the BugMaker could make an insect feel. 

"What brings you here, today?" gently asked the BugMaker. 

The little black and orange beetle responded firmly, "I want to hop like a grasshopper." Then, thinking he might have been rude, quickly added, "Please?" 

The BugMaker was confused. "But grasshoppers hop," she explained.

 "That's what my Mom says," said the beetle. 

"Your Mom is very wise," said the BugMaker. 

"Then make me fly faster like a fly or a hornet," tried the black and orange beetle. Again, he quickly added, "Please?" 

"But flies and hornets fly faster," explained the BugMaker. "That's what they do." 

The black and orange beetle sighed. "Mom says that, too." Then the little black and orange beetle had an idea. He realized that children liked to chase butterflies as well as grasshoppers. 

"I know! I know!" he offered excitedly. "Give me beautiful multi-colored wings like butterflies have!" He spun around, imaging what it would be like to have such beautiful wings. When he spun back to look at the BugMaker, he knew that his idea was not very good at all. In fact, this time he supplied the answer himself. In a voice that sounded somewhat like his Mom's and somewhat like the BugMaker's he said, "But butterflies have big, beautiful wings." 

The BugMaker smiled and nodded at him. 

"It's not fair!" the little black and orange beetle complained. "Grasshoppers and flies and hornets and butterflies got all the good bug stuff and all I got was this orange head!" The black and orange beetle glared at the BugMaker and challenged, "Can you give me something that will make the kids want to play with me?" 

The little black and orange beetle knew he had gone too far. You do not ask the BugMaker to give you a different gift, but he was not going to take it back or apologize. He had said it. He had meant it. He also expected to be punished, or at least lectured, for it. 

But instead, the BugMaker smiled sweetly at the little black and orange beetle and said softly, "So that's why you came here. You want to play with children." She reached out and ruffled his antennae gently. "That's a very, very nice reason to come to see me." 

The BugMaker winked in a way that makes magic happen and suddenly Ö

Optional prompts: 

  • What suddenly happened? 
  • Did the BugMaker give the small black and orange beetle a special bug ability as a gift? If so, what was it? 
  • Did the bug and my Mother ever play together?  

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