I’ve been a little emotional about the cicadas returning. The last time we saw the Brood X cicadas, my daughter was four. She and her babysitter would spend an afternoon flicking exoskeletons off the brick wall in our driveway. I remember thinking: the next time we see these cicadas she will be 21.
Fast forward 17 years, and she is 21. A Biology major (who can now explain – in detail – the order, suborder, and physiology of a cicada) on track to graduate from college in December.
During the time these cicadas have been underground, her entire childhood has raced by. Years and years. A moment.
While the cicadas have been tucked away in their underground tunnels, my daughter has progressed from holding my hand to holding her iPhone. A white dress for fifth grade promotion, a community service award for middle school graduation, a triumphant walk across the stage with over 800 racially and ethnically diverse peers.
Brood X meet Gen Z.
Somehow, I feel worried and protective of these emerging cicadas. On my morning walk, I saw some of them dead on the sidewalk. Did they get to live their life? It seems too soon to be dead. Did someone step on them? Did they have a deformed wing? After 17 years of waiting, they should have their full two-to-four weeks to sing, mate, and lay eggs.
I’m sad. About cicadas.
Or is it something else? Am I thinking about my daughter and her Gen Z cohorts? Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Mental health challenges. Suicide. How many of their moms, like me, calculated in 2004 how old their child would be when Brood X appeared again.