Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Curiosity Killed the Roly Poly

Photo by Andrea Sherrick

School has once again captured my attention and stolen away my free time, more intensely packed this summer then usual, with 16-week courses being crammed into eight-week spans of time. So in lieu of paper and paste, my artistic cravings are being satisfied through the creative writings required for my English Comp class ~ this is the second installment for you to enjoy.

 How Curiosity Killed The Roly Poly
by Crystal Neubauer

Inquisitive by nature, Andrea kept me on my toes as a mom. There seemed to be nothing she was afraid of trying and the word “stranger” did not exist in her young vocabulary. Many times I would find her batting her wide eyes up at me having found herself in one sort of a jam or another. Little startled-deer caught in oncoming traffic at rush hour had nothing on her with those eyes. Remarkable Eyes. Once a woman at the grocery store declared “Oh you have the most beautiful eyes! Can I have your eyes?”. Taken quite literally and turning those eyes to me in fear, Andrea whispered loudly: “Momma that lady wants my eyes!”. Perhaps it was coincidental, but there seemed to be a connection between those eyes and the inquisitiveness of her nature.

Family lore includes the trip to the hospital to retrieve the large red bead jammed far up the cavity of her nose. So far up had she managed to insert that bead, a slight bulge presented itself just between those eyes, a little to the right. Another time those wide eyes staring up at me were offset by the closest thing to alien green one could expect to find in the form of permanent ink marker. She had covered her chubby cheeked face, her arms and hands (not even sparing her fingernails), and all over that rounded baby belly that was among the little evidence her height would give to her true age. And one night as I stood at the stove her tiny voice pleaded up at me “Momma I'm stuck”. Intent on my stirring I asked her to wait, but with only a moment's hesitation she repeated “Momma, I'm stuck”. Secure in her whereabouts at my side I paid no attention and once again she insisted, loudly this time, “Maaaaaww! I'm Stuck!” Looking down impatiently I see her extending her arm with her cupped baby hand thrust in the air just above those eyes, having glued each tiny finger to the next from the web to the tip so securely that another trip to the hospital was in order. They were starting to know us by name.

Standing in front of the washing machine, mind set on pie-in-the-sky dreams and mental note-taking of tasks to be done, I thought nothing of reaching my hand into Andreas jeans pockets to clear them of the evidence of her play. Glancing down at my hand as I threw the jeans in the wash it took a moment for my mind to catch up. Squealing, I jump back in compensation for the delay, then catching myself with a chuckle, I realize the harmlessness of the creatures I am holding in my hand, curled as they are and long dead from suffocation.

Or curiosity.

We've had our share of odd creatures as pets, along with a fair number of kittens and puppies. The tarantula bought with Kristin's eighth grade graduation money, the backyard snakes and turtles smuggled in boxes to live under Jason's bed, and of course, there was the Oscar. Oh yes, the hedgehog, and birds, yes there were plenty of birds – but Andrea had an obsession with the Roly Poly.
Photo by Andrea Sherrick

We lived that year in a rented house in the middle of the historical section of town. It was the kind of house that made you wonder if it ever really had seen better days. Its additions were intended to improve, but had been so hastily and poorly erected the entire structure looked like it could be knocked down by a good stiff wind. Or a slight sneeze. But where the house had little to offer in the way of aesthetic appeal, the garden, with its dead logs, plentiful rocks, and old vegetation, was just the thing to excite a wide eyed curious little girl, and the perfect habitat for her favorite terrestrial crustacean, known as the Roly Poly.

Interesting characters, those little Roly Polys were. I was more inclined to believe their small size put them in the category of “bugs”, but in actuality they were more closely related to that hermit crab the Easter bunny had left for Jordan one year. Andrea spent hours that summer poking and prodding those little woodlice into the balls they formed when protecting themselves from harm. “An annoyance” is how they are described in the Pest Gallery by the Blue Chip Exterminating company, but I would reckon to guess that this description would more aptly describe the way the Roly Polys viewed Andrea then the other way around.

She couldn't help her curious nature. Some would say curious was just a polite way of saying “nosy” and if able to answer, the Roly Poly would surely be inclined to agree that this little girl was a little too nosy for their ultimate good.

 Photo by Andrea Sherrick

She's grown up now, that curious little girl, and still seeing the world through those wide inquisitive eyes. But instead of stuffing her pockets full of the treasures she finds each day, she is recording her life through the lens of her camera. And in those captured moments I am able to see the beauty that she sees hidden in the most mundane of things and I too have become fascinated with the Roly Poly.


  1. This piece had my attention throughout. Thanks so much for sharing, Crystal. You write so well!

  2. This sounds suspiciously like life with my son!!!! Great writing. Loved it.
    Still miss you at work!

  3. I love the "wide eyes batting up at me having found herself in one sort of jam or another". It so perfectly brings to mind my little niece and nephew both. The bead thing was quite unsettling, making me glad to be writing 'niece and nephew' and not 'daughter and sun'. :P

  4. ...le sigh...when is your 5 part novel coming out again?! i can't wait for more! :) (your andrea makes my cody look like a saint! wink!)

  5. A wonderful story of family and beautifully written. It sounds like Andre was destined to be a scientist from a very early age!

  6. Hearing these wonderful stories & the amazing images, I have no doubt that this inquisitive, creative, open & beautiful young woman will be someone we will be hearing from soon!!
    Thank you, Crystal! This was so great!!!

  7. Beautiful, Crystal! This is a delightful piece and Andrea sounds delightful as well. (Especially since I didn't have to take her to the ER or clean out her jeans pockets!)