Everyone else in the class already had a partner so Frank had to fill the glass tank with bright blue goo by himself. It reminded him of the colour of his mother’s eyes, how they used to be before his father left them and made his mother’s eyes all red and puffy.
“They’re not like us,” his mother said when he told about his science project. “Ants stay together in one big family. An ant doesn’t disappear from the farm for three nights leaving the other ants wondering where he is. An ant doesn’t need time out to find himself. An ant doesn't decide to move to another farm where the ants are younger and prettier. Ants are not like people.”
Frank watched his ants, every morning in class. Between them they nibbled criss-cross through the blueness until they had created a network of channels from side to side and top to bottom of their farm. Every one of the ants worked together, following each other in a determined line.
“Didn’t any of them piss off down the pub?” asked his mother. “Or stumble home at 2am, singing so loud the neighbours threatened to call the police? Maybe try to bluff away a load of stuff that showed up on his little ant credit card statement?”
Frank’s teacher said every pair, plus Frank, had to write a report about what they had learned from their ant farms. Then they would be allowed to take the the tanks home for the weekend, to show their families what they had made.
Frank wrote, “I never saw an ant make another ant cry. None of the ants were lonely. None of the ants ignored the others and did what they wanted to do instead. They wanted to be together. We could learn such a lot from ants. Ants are nothing like people. If I take my ant farm home, my mother might be sad. But I think I will send it to my Dad.”