Something Goes There, I Know Not What

There is a strange creature living in my house.

Close Up in the Crib

It is at once familiar and alien.  I thought I knew it well, but every day I realize I know it far less than I thought.

This creature looks like a somewhat smaller version of the adult form, but on close inspection, the observer realizes, not only from its appearance but from its behavior,that it is still a juvenile.

When confronted, the strange creature becomes very still, trying to blend in with its surroundings to avoid detection or confrontation.  Its natural behavior is quiet, protective, defensive.

It is always ready to eat.

The habitat I have created for it is a micro-jungle, a tiny tangle of this and that

The Mantis Crib

gleaned from the outside world. The creature does not try to alter its own surroundings, does not manipulate the materials much to build a nest or other structure, does not organize the habitat in any recognizable way.  It seems quite comfortable with chaos.

It generally coexists in harmony with the others in its habitat, but there are occasional conflicts.  These conflicts have been harmless so far, but as the creature grows and develops, wrestling for territory or food with its older co-habitants will become dangerous for the older ones.  Their time of physical

Praying Mantis, 1 Day Old

dominance is fading while the creature’s is just beginning.

There is no knowing what goes on in its mind.  As an observer, I am tempted to both leave it entirely alone and to stimulate it, longing to see all its possible reactions, yet it stubbornly refuses to react to anything with much gusto.  It’s hard to tell what will provoke it to action.  I have tried many stimuli, positive and negative, with similarly slight results. It is wary and guarded.

The creature can be delightful to watch as it grows and develops.  Its constantly changing body is a wonder of cell building and differentiation. It is difficult to comprehend how it can grow so quickly and not be in constant discomfort, not that it would easily display discomfort.  At times, it can be downright cute, charming, even attached to me, but I am learning not to take that for granted.

A window seat on a gray day

Someday soon, the creature will have reached the point in its development when it seeks independence.  I can see the beginnings of this already. It will need to be set free from the habitat I have formed and maintained for it. I will have to let it go to succeed or fail on its own.  I hope the creature knows that it will always find a place to rest here, among people that will not harm it.

Yes, my 17 year old son is a strange creature.

My son, 17, in Key West


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