One of my earliest childhood memories still haunts me to this day. I was just a three-and-a-half-year-old boy living with my mother, stepfather, and newborn sister in an old house in the middle of the desert in Lancaster, California. My mother was preoccupied with taking care of my baby sister, so I was often left to my own devices.

One day, I stumbled upon an ant mound in the open area behind our house. Intrigued, I decided to befriend the ants by sitting down next to their mound. Little did I know, these were not your ordinary ants - they were large, red and black ones with powerful jaws. As soon as I sat down, the ants swarmed me, biting me all over my body.

The pain was excruciating, and I panicked. I tried to brush the ants off, but they kept coming. In a frenzy, I stripped off my clothes and ran naked towards the house, screaming for my mother. When I burst into the room where she was nursing my sister, she was shocked to see her little boy covered in red welts, crying uncontrollably.

My mother quickly tended to my wounds, squishing the remaining ants in my hair and applying ointment to soothe the bites. Her care helped calm me down, but the experience left a lasting impression on me. My mother found the whole ordeal hilarious, but for me, it was a traumatic lesson learned.

Since that day, I’ve developed a fear of ants. Even the smallest ones make me jittery, and I can’t shake off the feeling of panic when I see them crawling on me. I’ve never sat on an ant mound again, knowing the consequences all too well. My mother and I reminisced about that incident many times over the years, and it’s a memory that still lingers with me, half a century later.