My daughter absolutely adores animals of all kinds which includes bugs. She certainly has not inherited this love from me, especially not the creepy crawly passion.
If I’m honest, I still flinch when I see a butterfly coming towards me, as they always look like they don’t know where they are going and will crash into me any second, flapping their crusty wings against my face. Of course, I cower and shudder then pretend I was doing a merry dance.
Last summer, we left some plastic cups out in the garden that had been filled with juice. The next day, just before school, I noticed the cups as I pulled back the curtains. Knowing that they would be teeming with dead ants, I rushed downstairs and dashed to the garden to empty the grizzly contents.
My suspicions were realised as I tipped out about 50 ants just from one cup. Sarah appeared by the patio door.
“Are they okay? The ants?”
Er…well they’re dead Sarah.”
“But are they going to be alright?”
Eh? No! They are dead!”
“So, do you mean they are not okay then?”
“Sarah, dead means dead. They are no longer living. They’ve gone to Ant Heaven, okay?”
Silence. She hung her head and closed her eyes. After a very large sigh for such a small frame, she muttered, “What a very bad start to the day.”
A few weeks later, she came out of school looking devastated. Despite her inner mirth, she’s not the happiest looking child at the best of times and strolls out of the gates with a face like she’s going home to a bread and dripping. “What’s happened?” I asked.
It turns out that at playtime, she had accidentally stepped on a bug of some sort and her friends took no delay in telling her so. She was blamed for the death by her two friends but they had mercy and eventually agreed to help her bury it. The only coffin they could find suitable to Sarah’s taste was a raisin box.
So in it went, then they buried it in the ground and covered it with grass. You’d think that would have been the end of it, but no, they sung some songs over it too. Then they added a dead bee who had passed away nearby and placed some buttercups onto the mound.
I listened intently to the description of this special service and marvelled at her compassion for all things living. Also, how despite her shyness and ‘follower’ personality, she has managed to influence her peers by turning them into funeral directors for flat black things with several legs. One friend, after falling out with her (as girls often do) told another girl that “If you want to upset Sarah, squash a bug in front of her.”
I used to think she was joking, but she does cry real tears when she sees someone tread on an ant. How sweet. I wish I was as tender-hearted. We have a lot to learn from our kids don’t we?