How cicadas left lasting impact on a Cincinnati dad

Roman Williams, 4, holds his last Brood X cicada on Monday, June 21, 2021.

We said good-bye on Monday evening.

The last of the cicadas in our neighborhood were on life support. I snatched one off a tree and handed it to my 4-year-old son.

“Is it real?” Roman asked. Translation: Was it alive? The cicada crawled slowly on his hand.

“That’s probably the last one you’ll hold, buddy,” I said while snapping an iPhone photo.

“But I want them still,” Roman replied.

He then threw it up in the air to let it fly away. It went about two feet and torpedoed to the sidewalk.

The nightly cicada “hunts” were over.

I miss the cicadas already.

They brought my son and I together like nothing ever had before. Since the cicada “hunts” started on the evening of June 6, Roman and I have had our best run of days together. It feels like a winning streak.

I read a lot of cicada stories leading up to the 17-year invasion. A lot of headlines like: “Here’s everything you need to know about the cicadas.” But those stories didn’t provide everything I needed to know. None of them talked about how Brood X could be an X-factor in a father-son relationship.

Roman Williams, 4, spots a Brood X cicada on a tree during his daily cicada "hunt" with his father.

Raising Roman has been a challenge. A good challenge, but a big test nonetheless. He’s replaced writing as my biggest daily challenge – and writing hasn’t gotten any easier 23 years into my career.

Raising my older son, 8, has been easy-peasy. But Roman is hard-headed, hot-tempered and persnickety. (Lots of family, friends and editors are chuckling right now, I know.)

He’s the kid who refuses to eat anything regularly except mac ‘n cheese, chicken nuggets, fries and Skyline three-ways. He consistently argues with his parents about what clothes to wear each day. He fights going to bed every night. He defiantly laughs at you when threatened with consequences for misbehavior.

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