Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Story of Inches

I am going to put the cards aside for today and tell you story about my two kids.  Sometimes, in this day and age, we forget about the process of letting children explore.  When I think of my own childhood, I remember long stretches of time where I was allowed to wander throughout the neighborhood, play in the backyard with my friends, and explore.  Explore without any interference from adults.  No one was choosing my exploring activities.  No one was guiding me along.  I did what wanted, explored what I found interesting.  Children are so curious and it really doesnt take much to get them going.  
A few afternoons ago my kids were out in the backyard.  I could see them through the sliding glass door.  They were both squatting on their haunches looking at something underneath the ledge by the door.  I saw my daughter motion to my son to go after something.  My son got up and ran over to the tree and picked up a stick.  He  came back and gave it to my daughter who began poking at something under the door.  I wondered if I should go out there.  But then the phone rang and thank goodness it did.   
I kept one eye on the scene outside while I talked with my sister in law.  The kids were in the same position intent on poking the stick at something.  I saw my daughter tell my son something.  He jumped up and ran in the house, grabbed a pair of scissors and went back outside.  Now most parents (myself included) know scissors can lead to very bad things, especially when there is no paper insight.   Alas my sister in law was intent on telling me about the wedding plans, so I kept one eye on the door and continued talking.
Now my son had the stick.  There was something that looked like a big cobweb on the end.  My daughter had the scissors and was trying to cut it open.  They worked and worked and worked, always intent on what they were doing.  After about 10 minutes I hung up with my sister in law. I walked to the back door to see what was going on.  My daughter and son looked at me with faces full of concern.  " We are saving a caterpillar, but its too late," said my daughter.   The moved to the side and showed me the caterpillar on the ground.   He was wriggling but still encased in a fine blanket of webbing.  "We cut off as much as we could," she said.  "Webbing is very tough," said my son.  "I think he will die," said my daughter.   She scooped him up and brought him to me.  He was wrapped in a few layers of spider web.  It was tight around his body.  He could not crawl.  "Help him Mama!" said my son.   We got the tweezers out of my son's pocket knife and began performing a spider web extraction.  It was difficult. Spider webbing is tough!  My husband came over and we worked together to free the caterpillar.  My kids cheered when the last of web came off.  The declared his name was Inches.  We tried to set him free but he was so tired he could barely move.
My daughter put him into a jar with holes and a few leaves.  Inches was to be a pet.  In the end it was clear Inches did not wish to be a pet and my two children debated what to do.  They ended up letting him go in the grass.  Did he live?  I have no idea.   But I do know my kids learned so many lessons that day:
  • Kindness
  • Spider webbing is tough stuff
  • Spiders eat more than flies
  • Not all caterpillars adjust well to captivity
  • A job can sometimes be done if two people work together
  • Persistence can pay off
  • Talking about options can make hard decisions easier

And they learned it all because I had a phone call and I didn't walk out and say,  "Eww get out of the spider webs!  Go play!"  We have to remember sometimes keeping our mouths shut is the best guidance of all.


Mara... said...

What a fantastic story!!!! I love how in the end you all worked together to set Inchies free. So sweet!!

BethieJ said...

What a GREAT story Michele.. and YEAH for saving Inchies!
Have a GREAT day!

Melissa said...

Thanks for telling that sweet story! I totally believe that kids need to have some space to work things out by themselves...if not, how will they cope as adults?

Claire Brennan said...

Brilliant story!!! you are so very right!