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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Making a Meal of Meal Worms.

Real Live Meal Worm

For the past week, I’ve had a few days working at a small country school. When I call the roll at the beginning of each day, I get the kids to answer by telling me something about themselves. One thing I KNOW about country kids is that they LOVE animals.

All animals.

When I ask these country kids to reply to their name with the name of one of their pets, I’ve been getting responses like, Star, Blaze, Flicka and Gypsy. I’m assuming most of these kids have ponies.

I haven’t spotted anyone riding a horse to school but it wouldn’t surprise me if I did

The first thing I do when I walk into the classroom is to outline my classroom expectations. 

With the little kids I use a clapping routine to get their attention. They have to stop what they’re doing and repeat the clapping pattern back to me. 

Of course this doesn’t work as well with older kids who just ignore the teacher and turn disdainful noses up at baby things, but the Preps to Grade Threes always respond immediately and enthusiastically, as if it's a highly exulted ritual which MUST be obeyed. 

They freeze instantly, turn to face me like robots and slap their hands together like they’re in a full on Gospel choir.

I love their dedication.

The last lesson in my littlies class today was a science oriented lesson, where the kids had to inspect a colony  (crèche… meatball… ?) of Meal Worms. They’ve been nurturing these creatures for months and had to do a write up regarding the worms’ growth and activity level. 

The only thing I know about meal worms is that you can put them in Tequila.

Let me tell you right now, from what I observed, meal worms don’t lead very exciting lives. Although they are considered to be agricultural pests so it’s strange that the presumed children of farmers are currently nurturing them in virtual nurseries at the school. What if they escaped?

I could see sinister undulating movement under the sawdust in the container and I was nervous because it was my job to extract about ten meal worms for observation from a container with a pair of tweezers.

“Don’t squeeze too hard, Mrs Poinker,” instructed one little girl. “We wouldn’t want any of them to be hurt. We love them.”

“Do they bite?” I asked in trepidation, eyeing the rising and falling of the sawdust. “Just how big are these things?”

Meal Worm Enclosure


I’d accidentally chopped one in half. I quickly buried it under a desiccated apple core before anyone saw it and started crying.

They were wiggly little buggers... with a death wish it seemed. Every time I picked one up it would struggle vehemently necessitating me to tighten my grip on the tweezers.

The kids were putting the slimy, oversized maggots on their hands and scrutinising them under magnifying glasses.

It was getting close to bell time and I need the kids' attention attention to pack up their belongings for home time.

“Clap, clap. Clap-clap-clap,” I pounded hard with my hands.

Twenty-five hands mimicked me.

I won’t say any more about the blood bath that ensued.

It wasn’t pretty.

Thankfully meal worms can miraculously regenerate their bodies after death in the same way that jellyfish can grow back from one tentacle..

That’s what I told the kids as they scraped the squished remains from their palms anyway.