CATERPILLAR KISSES

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 (Alex 7, Ana 3)

Dear Ana,

You used the word dead recently.  It’s the first time I’ve heard you say it and it took me by surprise because I don’t know where you’ve heard it before and am sure you don’t know what it means.

Last week you found a dead moth hanging from a spider web.  Though I told you to leave it alone, you snuck it inside and put in one of your dresser drawers.  You started collecting grass and pine needles to feed your new pet, which you named Charley Chaney.  Then you seemed concerned when you went to check on him later.  “He’s not eating,” you told me puzzled.

“He doesn’t need food anymore,” I said.  I didn’t want to break it to you that he was dead.

You seemed to accept this and later Dad cleaned out your drawer and you barely noticed.  You seem too young to know about death and thankfully you wouldn’t really understand even if I tried to explain it.  Maybe better, more emotionally resourceful parents would know how to have these talks, but I’m determined to wait until I feel I have no other choice.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Dear Ana,

Your love for all creatures great and small continues.  You found a caterpillar last week and brought him into the house.  “I’m going to name him,” you announced excitedly.

Then you left him on the kitchen table and went back out on the porch only to find him missing when you returned.  For days, you told everyone you saw that you had lost your caterpillar and that you hoped to find him so you could give him a name.  Not long after, you found a dead caterpillar.

“He’s dead,” you said opening your hand to show me.  Then you started talking to him, “Can you move?”

I was somewhat relieved to know you haven’t grasped the permanence of death.

You were feeling sad that day about your lost and dead caterpillars (which may have been one and the same).  Then the very next morning we found the front porch covered in caterpillars.  I stopped counting at 70.  You were ecstatic and started collecting them in your plastic bug cage.  I eventually made you return them to the porch but every day we find one inside.  One evening you were sitting on the floor after dinner and looked up at me with wide eyes.  “I didn’t eat it.”

“You didn’t eat what?” I asked.

“I just tried to kiss my caler-pillar and he fell into my mouth.  But I didn’t eat him.  I spit him out.”

 


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